Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 29 - Day in Obidos

Day 29 - September 29, 2013

Since the weather was going to be gloomy, we decided to make a day of it in Obidos which is located about an hour and 10 minutes north of Lisbon. This was going to be our last day trip in Portugal. It's a medieval, walled town consisting of small churches, restaurants, artisan shops, and 18 actual residents.

The medieval town of Obidos

The outer wall and fortress

One of the towers

Entrance to the town

There are winding streets that go up and down hills through the main center of the town where all the tourists are,  and a residential area with picturesque houses all within the walls.  If you were to walk the perimeter walls, it would take you about 2 hours. 

Music playing as you enter

The winding tiled streets

Colorful parks

Vibrant flowers on trees
Unique shop interiors

Artistic store front signage

Peculiar book store with a vegetable stand in the background  
Ancient structures

Churches of days gone by

Detailed church facades

After spending a few hours exploring the town, we found out that the restaurant we wanted to go to was located outside the town walls.  It was about a 15 minute walk, up and down steps to get there.
Had some photo opportunities of  Obidos along the way. 

The surrounding countryside

Homes nestled around the town

The Cathedral of Santu├írio do Senhora da Pedro  

The magnificent alter

After walking to the restaurant we were upset to find out it was closed.  Figures!!  We came upon another restaurant down the way from it called O Caldeirao that had some interesting dishes listed on the menu.  It was a quaint little place and the food was great.  I had the Portuguese sirloin steak with potatoes, and it was cooked to perfection.  Terry ordered the fried cod and was not disappointed.

We finished our wonderful meal and started our walk back to the town to catch the bus back to Lisbon.  When we arrived at the bus terminal in Campo Grande, Lisbon, Terry wanted to get a picture of  Jose Alvalade Stadium.

It was time to get back to the apartment to do some laundry before packing up.  We are leaving tomorrow for San Sebastian and visiting Obidos was a pleasant day to end our stay in Portugal.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 26 - A Trip to the Doc

Day 26 - September 26, 2013

Since I wasn't feeling any better, I had to make an appointment to see a doctor in order to get medicine needed.  As I said before, thank goodness we have travel health insurance.  Went to the doctor around 11 AM and was a pleasant experience as he spoke English and was from England.  Very nice man.  Did the usual tests and got my much needed prescriptions.  He said he was asking for a rush on the results because we were leaving on Monday.  So will wait to hear the outcome.  It turns out a doctor visit costs about 90 Euros (even without insurance) and the deductible was 75 Euros.  In the states, the doctors charge more than twice that!!  And he spent more time for the visit as well.

Day 27 - Colombo Mall in Lisbon and Dinner at Grapes and Bites

Day 27 - September 27, 2013

Since it was going to be a rainy day, we decided to make a day of it at the Colombo Mall and then have an early dinner at Grapes and Bites.  Before heading to the mall we made a stop at the Campo Grande Bus station to get our bearings for our day trip to Obidos on Sunday.  It was quite confusing at the station and we had no idea which actual station the bus would go from.  No one who worked there could even give us any good information on where to go.  Then Terry happened to remember that it was located near an apartment complex that a trip advisor contributor had mentioned in his description of the station.  So we found it and now know how to get there for our Sunday adventure.

Headed to the mall after that which has 420 shops and 60 restaurants inside.  It's one of the largest malls in Europe.  It is overwhelming when you get there and most of the shops are high end and designer ones.  No special clearances going on there.    Here are links to what it looks like outside and in.  Pretty incredible.

Didn't end up buying anything there but it was nice to just look around.  At one of the electronic and appliance stores, wanted to see if they had a portable inexpensive printer for our computer.  Saw one but it was still to large, heavy, and too expensive. 

After spending 3 hours at the mall (which was hard to believe) it was time to go to Grapes and Bites (I kept calling it Grapes and Vines).  Terry had researched this restaurant at the time of planning our trip to Lisbon.  It's a quaint little bistro with hundreds of different wines and an array of appetizers of cheeses and sausages They also have a small entree selection with some delectable choices.  . 

Ordered a bottle of wine and had a fresh goat cheese appetizer and some olives.  I am a cheese lover so I was in heaven.  Terry was pleasantly surprised at how good the goat cheese was.  It came presented with mint and fresh tomatoes with a light sauce that had a bit of a sweet note to it.  After we finished, the chef came up to our table and we told him how good it was.  He then said he was
going to make us a special cheese appetizer at no charge, it was on him.  Well, he came out with a beautifully presented plate of cheese with figs and a pumpkin sauce.  It was fabulous.  Ordered another appetizer consisting of different sausages (like salami) and other cheeses that was accompanied by sweet pickled onions and more of the pumpkin sauce.  YUM!!

We didn't stop there either. We ordered another bottle of wine and Terry ordered two entrees, a roasted cod casserole and stuffed small peppers with more cheese.  I had the peppers and Terry ate the roasted cod.  Needless to say, these were both excellent.  I then went on to have a dessert, ricotta (more cheese) with another pumpkin sauce.  It was very light and good.  I don't know how I ate that much!!  But it was worth it!!  Two bottles of wine, three appetizers, 2 entrees, and a dessert, all for
75 Euros.  Not bad!

Afterwards, we were very full and took a leisurely stroll by the river, down from the apartment.  It was a good day!!

Days 24 and 25 - "Under the Weather"

Days 24 and 25 - Sept. 24th and 25th, 2013

Well, the past two days were spent inside resting.  Terry has had a bout of "Montezuma's Revenge" for a couple of days now.  Me, I started getting a UTI.  Aren't we the fun couple???

Terry seems to be getting better after getting some meds at the farmacia that don't require a prescription.  I, on the other hand, need to see a doctor in order to get antibiotics to clear it up.  So tomorrow I have a doctors appointment at 11:00.  Thank goodness we take out travel health insurance, although it can be a real pain getting things set up. 

It's times like this that it's great to have an apartment rather than being in a hotel .  You can be more relaxed and have a separate bedroom to rest if you're not feeling well. :)

Until tomorrow...........

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Day 23 - Guincho Beach

Day 23 - September 23, 2013

Guincho Beach

We couldn't have picked a more pleasant day to go to Guincho Beach.  The temperature was in the upper 70's with a nice breeze and sunshine.  It was about a half hour bus ride on Number 415 from Cascais bus terminal.  It was the same terminal we took the bus to Cabo da Roca from.  The ride itself was pretty uneventful and, as a matter of fact, we thought we were going in circles.  Terry had asked the driver when we got on the bus if he would advise us of the stop for Guincho Beach and the driver said he would.  When we were near, the driver announced that the next stop would be for Guincho.  Right after, some guy comes up and asks him again.  Needless to say the driver was a bit perturbed after he just announced it.   We arrived at the stop for Guincho Beach located in front of a hotel and restaurant.

Doesn't look like much from the outside, even with the two cannons on either side of the doorway.  Until, you get inside and see an extravagant hotel with the least expensive room starting at around 220 Euros a night.  It is really high end inside with a lot of antique furniture, marble, and a stunning staircase.  The staff was very accommodating with allowing us to take photographs and to cut through to the outside to get views from their location.

View of the Lobby

The elaborate carpeted staircase

Colorful centerpiece in the lobby

Once outside at the back of the hotel grounds, this is the incredible view from there.

The entire landscape of Guincho Beach is gorgeous and comprised of rock formations, cliffs, sand dunes, and clear blue water, and rolling waves. It is known as the main surfing beach because of it's strong surf and constant breeze.  Guincho is considered one of the most scenic beaches in the Lisbon area. Here are some striking photos of this picturesque beach.

While taking these pictures, we had parked ourselves among rock formations in the sand which provided a great vantage point.  All of a sudden I realized I was getting wet and Terry was concentrating so hard on capturing the surfers, he didn't realize the water now had come up over his knees.  Time to move out of there.

Now for surfing at the beach.  No, not us, but the many avid and experienced surfers.

Have no idea why the sky looks so dark in the photos.   Although right about now, clouds were starting to roll in and block some sun.  We arrived here at just the right time for our photos.

After watching the surfers for a while, we headed back towards the bus stop, but first stopped for a beer.  While we were waiting for the next bus, which wouldn't arrive for about 45 minutes, we took a walk along the nature trail located across the street from the beach.  It looked like it when on forever!

You can see from the photos how far this is and we even zoomed in for the last photo.  We had walked to a "nature center" building which of course was closed when we got there.  Across the street there was a bus stop for number 405 (another bus that comes to Guincho Beach) but decided to play it safe and walk back to the original one.  Once we were on the bus, the second stop was that bus stop across from the nature center.  Oh well....

We originally had plans to have a light lunch once we were back in Cascais, but because we spent more time than we thought at Guincho, that was changed to just going back to the apartment to eat dinner.

Day 22 - Time to Catch Up on The Blog

Day 22 - September 22, 2013

Spent the day posting on the blog about our night at the bullfight.  Our original plan was to go to Guincho Beach but Terry wasn't feeling well and we felt it would be better to wait until tomorrow.  Sunday's are quiet days as most shops are closed and the restaurants are only open until early evening. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Days 20 and 21 - Explanations For Delay in Last Two Posts

Days 20 and 21- September 20, 21 2013

Odds and ends from the guest blogger.

I wanted to praise Julie for her persistence and knowledge in creating this blog. After our day trip to Sintra, she was faced with well over 100 pictures and kept at it until she created the slideshow to make it easier to read and see. Then with the bullfights she again figured out how to send our video to You Tube and then be able to place it in the blog for everyone to view. I am proud of her patience in doing this. That is the reason for the delay's in getting the last couple of days blog out. She spent the better part of 2 days developing it. That is why yesterday we only worked on the blog and the rest of our stay in Lisbon. The best part of this is that we did not have to ask our young adults how to do this. I'm sure all the techies out there are laughing at how easy this should have been.

The weather here has been fantastic. Had a couple of days in the mid 70's but the rest of the time it has been 84-94 with no humidity. The sun has been shining all along. I was out and about continually even with the hot weather. Humidity is my problem. Unfortunately the forecast from Wednesday till we leave on Sunday for San Sebastian is rain. We have a day trip and several other areas we will explore between today and Wednesday.

Lisbon, Portugal might not be high on anyone's bucket list but it should be. We have never felt more comfortable anywhere we have been like we am here. The people are respectful and very helpful. It is  a very beautiful country, the food is wonderful and as I said, the people are here to help. Julie will be back with the blog again tomorrow :)

Day 19 - A Night at the Bullfight

Day 19 - September 19, 2013

Note from the Blogger:  For this post, Terry will be the guest blogger

Our Night at the Bullfight

The excitement was building all day as we passed the time reading, doing some laundry, napping and having a light dinner. We left early to make sure we arrived on time. Took the metro to Campo Pequeno, climbed the stairs to exit the metro and this was our first look at the arena all lit up.

I'm so excited at this point but it's an hour before first pitch or post time or whatever they call it at a Bullfight. We walked around the attached mall for a while and then went inside. We were handed a program, I guess, can't read Portuguese. There were no metal detectors, no body search. Nice change of pace. Found our seats and then I went to explore the arena. Found some stairs and headed up for an ariel view. Took a picture from above.....

.....and was promptly asked to leave the second level. I didn't realize that the rope in front of the stairs meant "do not pass this point" :) I had my picture and was happy.

The arena is slowly not even close to filling up and I'm wondering where everyone is?

Not at the bar. You can see that the bartenders were happy to see me but where is everyone?

The arena is set up just like any sports venue. Lots of stations to buy, beer, sangria, white or red wine and lots of snacks including mini cheesecakes. Are these to throw or eat?

The dignitaries arrive and sit in their little box and the Trumpet dude starts playing.........

The doors open on the other side and all the players, minus the bulls, come out to take a bow.

Notice all the empty seats in the background. Are we at a Cubs game in September? We found out that this is not the big league matadors. This was for the up and coming to show their stuff. Julie commented that it was like the minor leagues. I guess my reference to the Cubs was not far off :)

The main players for the first round

The real attraction then enters the arena to cheers from the hundreds that were in attendance!

Notice that his horns have been cut and are basically useless. What's up with that?  He's defenseless!

Here is a video of part of the action with the guys on the horses. To us, the horses are the real athletes here because of the way they move and avoid the bull. We think the vocals from the rider tell the horse what to do. Hopefully this isn't too long.

The rider then leaves the ring to a chorus of cheers. The bull is still out there and a bunch of guys enter the ring, looking like this:

They align themselves in a stright line and one guy walks out to the middle of the arena and starts chanting and antagonizing the bull. Bull pays no attention so he walks closer. Not sure what is going on but this guy has balls! The other 7 guys are back against the wall and I'm thinking that they are going to scale the wall when and if the bull charges. Here is a video of what happens. I apologize for concentrating on the bull and not showing the alignment of these guys but I had no idea what was going on. 

What you just saw was I'm sure not the plan. Notice how the crowd cheers loudly as he is smashed into the wall. This video is of the second group. The first group did whatever it was they were doing very well, I think, and when it was over the brave soul who stood in the middle was cheered.

The guy in the video was cheered also but he looked like this:

After all left the ring, the doors opened to cow bells clanging and out came a bunch of steers. We are not sure what they are for but quickly realize that they are going to lure the bull out of the ring. Menacing group, aren't they?

They do their job quickly and the bull follows them out:

We are totally confused at this point and have no idea what the point of all of this is. There is no scoreboard, we don't know which horseman won. We do know which little Leprechaun dressed guy lost. The next segment was after an intermission where everyone cleared out to get more alcohol and discuss their favorite parts of the first half. Don't speak Portuguese so they could have been talking about us :) This guy was posing the whole time around the ring for his big moment with the bull.

This short video is what you would expect at a bullfight. Notice this bull has his horns razor sharp and is looking to do damage but they are so slow that I think I could go in the ring and be a Matador. Or would I rather be the guy who stands in the middle and gets the Shit kicked out of him? NOT :)

There was still more to come at this point but we decided that we had enough. As we left we kept asking ourselves "what did we just see"? We don't think we will ever know but I'm glad for the experience and realized that I would rather watch bowling :)  Ole'