I am so sorry, my friends, that while Hubby and I have been meandering in Portugal, I have not found my way back to the blog to write a post. I hope you have been following me on Instagram where I have been trying to post snippets of our trip daily. Not everything, of course. I’m saving some good stuff for the blog.

Trying a new selfie method in Coimbra

After Lisbon we picked up our car and drove to Coimbra. Not without a few glitches. Like how to operate an unfamiliar GPS, and how to avoid tolls. We’d been told by the attendant at Avis that we needn’t think about tolls because it was all taken care of, our car had an electronic pass, she said. Except she neglected telling us how to access the appropriate lanes So we sailed onto the highway, and when we exited, we ended up paying $60.00 Euros for a half hour drive. The penalty, we learned, for not having an exit ticket. Ack. At this rate we’d have to remortgage the house to get around. I tried calling Avis for advice on which lane was which with no luck at any of the numbers provided. So we took all small roads to our destination and found my iPhone ap much better help than the GPS. A German man at our accommodation finally explained how to negotiate the green lanes and NOT end up paying tolls.

But, you know, now that we know how to negotiate the appropriate lanes, we’re not taking the big roads anyway, so we’ve decided not to worry. Water under the bridge. Or money down the drain whichever way you look at it. The GPS has ended up not being worth the money, because I’ve been able to use my iPhone everywhere. We only paid for the GPS as a kind of belt and braces strategy. Because in Italy there were a couple of days when I did not have a cell signal when we were on the road. And since we are planning to drive through mountainous areas this time we thought that a GPS was a prudent expense.

Black-clad student at Coimbra University.

Coimbra was lovely. We walked around and explored it up and down, including the historic university, on the one day we had there. Hot and hilly is what I remember most. But beautiful. I will write a more detailed post when we get home about where we stayed. Oryza Guest House was wonderful. As was the fabulous meal we had one night at a nearby restaurant. I want to repay the favours showered upon us by some accommodations by linking them in a fulsome post about Portuguese hospitality.

I think it’s interesting to note that the places where we stay are always as important to me as the sights we see. That’s why we spend so much time finding accommodations which will suit us… we hope. Older hotels, apartments in historic areas, a few rural places like where we are staying now just outside the Peneda-Gerês National Park, make our trips more memorable. I know that many won’t agree and say that a guesthouse or hotel is just a place to sleep. But not for us.

Oryza Guest House courtyard.

But that more detailed post will have to wait until I am working on my big computer. At the moment, as I said in my Lisbon post, I have about an inch wide window in which to compose, once the keyboard on my iPad mini is activated. Hence my not noticing that I’d said we visited Sinatra, instead of Sintra, when we were in Lisbon. Ha. So please excuse the occasional proofreading glitch.

After two nights in Coimbra we headed for Porto and an apartment right in the thick of things.

The apartment where we stayed, on a cobbled hilly street, had a huge second- floor terrace where we had our glass of wine each night and watched the action below in the cafes and wine bars. Then we left the youngsters to their revels and closed our soundproof door and windows. Ha.

Lots of stairs in Porto.

Hubby had a health issue in Porto, a hugely swollen foot, so painful he could hardly walk. But the company who owned our apartment had an emergency number, and the lovely girl on duty sent us a doctor within an hour. Seriously. A doctor doing house calls. We had to pay, of course. But the prescription he wrote fixed Hubby right up in a couple of days. And my pharmacist sister to whom I texted the name of the medication said that the young doctor’s recommendation was spot on. Always nice to have a consulting pharmacist only a text away, folks.

Igreja de Santo Ildefonso in Porto

We were charmed by Porto. Me especially by the beautiful cobalt blue Azulejos tiles. And the Mercado do Bolhão, where we had the best coffee and bought treats for our supper.

It’s easy to avoid crowds on the small streets in Porto.

We walked a bit on our first day, but Hubby was in a lot of pain. So we took a slow day after that when I did a laundry and he napped and rested his foot. You know, even the laundromat was lovely in Porto. The attendant could not do enough to help me. When I thanked him profusely as I was leaving with all our clothes washed, dried, and folded, plus some quality book time under my belt, he said to be sure to tell everyone in Canada that Porto laundromats are the best. So I have.

Dinner out on our last night in Porto.

Our last day in Porto we walked the big bridge to the other side of the river, toured a port cellar, and walked lots more. Then we had dinner out. We’d cooked for ourselves the other nights. We don’t mind cooking for ourselves when we travel. And usually plan to do it about half the time, if we can. That way we can get an early start to our daytime adventures, and collapse with a nice glass of local wine, and a relaxed supper when we get “home.”

That’s one reason we have enjoyed the outdoor spaces of our accommodations so much. The rooftop terrace of our Lisbon apartment, the peaceful courtyard in Coimbra where we had an after dinner drink late one evening, and the huge terrace-balcony we had to ourselves in Porto.

Somewhere in Pineda-Gerês National Park

But as interesting and vibrant as Porto was, it was quite crowded at times. And we are sighing with relief to be here in Sobredo, on the edge of Peneda-Gerês National Park at Casinhas da Levada. We are drinking in the quiet, and the old stone buildings, some of which are derelict, and the beautifully rebuilt farmhouse which we are calling home for three nights. How were we lucky enough to find this place?

Yesterday we’d planned to hike, but the heat, and the warnings of our host about lack of shade on the hills, made us change our mind. So, instead, we had a wonderful drive through tiny old villages, on twisty mountainous roads, ate a picnic lunch, and came home early for a swim. Travel at it’s finest, as far as we’re concerned.

The pool at Casinhas da Levada.

Now I must go. We’re going for a final swim, uncorking the wine, and thinking about what we’ll have for supper. Tomorrow we head out for the Douro Valley.

Take care, my friends. I hope I’ll be able to post again before we head for home. But if not, I’ll make up for it when I’m back in Manotick. Where, after the laundry is done, I’ll be packing away my summer clothes, and finally thinking about fall blazers and boots. Sigh. xox


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43 thoughts on “Meanderings in Portugal”

  1. Always fun to read about your travels. I rarely comment, but did you know that you can download Google Maps to your phone and they will work without cell coverage? We choose the map areas we need. If you click on your identity circle on the top right corner and choose Offline Maps, you’ll find out the details.

  2. I feel very lucky to be getting occasional updates during your travels! I had imagined we would be waiting until you got home (and would completely have understood if this were the case).

    I am on the same page as you are regarding travel accommodations being more than just a place to sleep. While we don’t require luxury, my husband and I always research a comfortable and home-like place to stay, especially if it will be for multiple nights. When I remember special trips we have taken together, it is as likely to be the places we stayed as the sights we saw that come to mind.

    Hope you continue to have a wonderful month in Portugal!

  3. Hi Sue … I really enjoyed reading this and that first picture of you both is so lovely. Your trip is sounding wonderful so far. You’ve found some great accommodation.
    Thanks for taking the time to post and enjoy your swim!
    Sorry to hear about Stu’s foot … I hope he’s fully recovered now. Take care!

  4. the first picture of the two of you is terrific. you look very refreshed! i have just been lucky enough to spend six months in the UK and europe but didnt make it to portugal. its definitely at the top of my list for the next adventure after reading your post. thank you and have a great time

    1. We are having a good time. Especially thanks to the lovely places we’ve been staying and the fact that people cannot seem to do enough to help us.

  5. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time , barring a few hiccups but that’s normal for any holiday . You’ve found some perfect places to stay – Small , beautiful & very Portuguese . We never wanted 5 star multinational luxury either . That first photo of you both is lovely . Enjoy the rest of your travels .

    1. Glitches are to be expected. In Argentina I had to go to emergency because of my insect bites. I swell up and blister when encountering new bugs. Ha. Happens every trip. In Porto I was bitten because we left our windows open at night and I woke up with blisters on my hands and arm. But I know what to do now. Honestly… every trip is an adventure in wounds. Ha. But I know that you and Max are well acquainted with “incidents” when travelling.

    1. I found the same issue with the photos on my phone, but the proportions were normal on my laptop.

    2. Yes I noticed that when I viewed the post on my phone. Something to do with my composing the post on my iPad. I don’t, at the moment, know how to correct it.

  6. Sue.
    This was such fun to read this morning in St. Louis.
    Thanks for taking your time to post this.

  7. Dear Portuguese Traveller 🫶 enjoy the kindly and relaxed lifestyle. You will see the Douro valley… I love it! Absolut amazing!
    Hugs from Cologne in the Rhine valley 😊

  8. We always stayed in nice, not luxurious, hotels but then we rented an Airbnb and feel in love with that style of accommodation. We can cook in if we like or dine out. We have space to spread out and enjoy quiet which you will not find in a hotel. I think your picks might be a bit more rustic than my choices but the idea is the same. It’s a bit like coming home every day.
    I’m happy to hear Stu is on the mend. Enjoy the rest of your time in Portugal.

  9. What a wonderful trip you are having! I wonder if you can tell me the identity of the gray hat your husband is wearing in one of your photos. Very sun protective and good looking. Props to him for wearing it too. Thank you.

  10. Sue, I’m really enjoying your posts from Portugal. They are just reinforcing for me that Portugal must be my next adventure. I’m glad to hear that Stu’s foot is better. I was once laid up in Cambridge for a week with a sore and swollen foot. It wasn’t all bad! Enjoy the remainder of your trip.

  11. Love all the photos you are sharing. Looks as if you are having a wonderful trip so far despite foot injuries.

  12. I’m so happy to be following your travels through Portugal! Such great ideas and new adventures to add to mine next year. It will be my first year of retirement and I’m spending a winter month in Portugal. Truly looking forward to it! Thank you!!

  13. Sue, thank you for sharing your travels in Portugal. It sounds like you and Hubby are having a fabulous trip. I think that Spain where I live and Portugal, are enjoying wonderful weather at the moment and makes travelling and discovering new places so much more enjoyable.

    1. Good weather definitely helps. We just slowed down our pace to accommodate for the heat. Not sure how I would have handled a 2-4 hour walking trip in Lisbon like some groups we saw.

  14. Could you please share the name, address of your apartment in Porto. Sounds like a great spot!! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

    1. Our apartment in Porto was owned by a company called Sweet Porto. The address where we stayed is on Alegria Street. We found it in Booking.com. There is free parking.

  15. It is such a pleasure to read about your travel! Portugal seems wonderful!
    I’m glad that everything ended well with Stu’s foot

    1. Thanks, Dottoressa. Stu’s foot is good now. The doctor suspected gout, but because Stu has never had it before, and he has a very healthy lifestyle, we didn’t suspect that. But that meds prescribed works very well. 😊

  16. My heart is breaking for the suffering of so many innocent people in the world.
    Is this really the time for the very privilege to post about it?

    I am sure few will agree with me but it sits uncomfortably with me.
    It just seems like unseemly boasting.
    I don’t know. I am just so devastated by what is going in the Middle East.

    1. Your comment is interesting Dee & , I agree , the Middle East situation is dreadful . As is the Ukraine , the persecutions in China plus racism & cruelty all over the world . So do we not enjoy the good things in the world ? Whether it is a sunny morning , a beautiful view , a wonderful building , a kind stranger or a long awaited holiday in a foreign land . Sue staying home would change nothing in the Middle East & I’d argue that she is doing us all a favour by lifting our spirits in sad times . I can’t agree that she is boasting . She isn’t posing in luxurious hotels wearing designer outfits or pretending that her trip is utter perfection . Travel broadens the mind even when done vicariously & can serve to remind us that our fellow human beings have the same hopes & aspirations as us , whatever their nationality .

  17. Thank you for your postings, Sue. I have really enjoyed reading about Portugal…the people and places. Xx

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