Coimbra, the former capital of Portugal in the 12th and 13th century, is nowadays the most notorious university city in Portugal and a perfect weekend destination if you find yourself either in Lisbon or Porto. The city has an intriguing and tragic love story behind it, that of Infante Pedro and Inês de Castro (a Spanish lady in waiting to Pedro´s wife, Constança). You see, Pedro and Inês were in love, so after Pedro´s wife died, they stopped hiding their love affair, a thing that enraged Pedro´s father, the king. He was so angry, that he had Inês killed, a thing that in return turned Pedro incredibly angry. One thing led to another, an uprising against the king started, and Inês´ killers basically ended up with their hearts ripped out, earning Pedro the name of “the Cruel”. Had Shakespeare known about Coimbra, Romeo and Julia would have been an entirely different story.
A couple of weeks ago we went on a trip to the Douro region, which we ended with a couple of days spent in Porto. I am quite used to visiting Porto regularly for both work and leisure but on this trip we actually ended up visiting a part of the city I had never before explored – Foz do Douro. The day was sunny and air smelled like salt, so I kept stopping every couple of meters to snap a picture. I selected my favourite 10 to share with you here.
For many Portuguese people a yearly trip to the Algarve is an absolute must, and now with many country borders closed, it´s maybe more popular than ever. My own first Algarvian trip was like a rite of passage and I still remember the day I first got in a car to drive down South – it was the day of June 7th 2016. I absolutely loved the Algarve, but took my time to claim my favourite spot. That, dear reader, is the magical island of Tavira – a stretch of land 11km long, with a width varying from 150 m to 1 km at its widest. Other than last year which was pretty unusual, I´ve been going to Tavira every single year. I am currently typing this from our rented villa in the city of Luz de Tavira and I resolved to take some pictures on this trip to show you what this magical place is all about. Full disclosure: I had written about this area on an old blog and will be using some text from back then again. But let´s get to it.
Portugal´s South coast is a paradise of green waters, magnificent beaches and what seems like an endless supply of delicious sea food. The Algarve is a mere two and a half hours away from Lisbon, so lots of Portuguese vacation there at least once every summer. I, myself, albeit not Portuguese (yet), love driving down there and exploring all the different nooks and crannies of this wonderful coast line. This time, we stayed in the town of Luz de Tavira, and explored the East side of the Algarve. And while I won´t be writing much in this post, I´d like to share ten pictures from my camera, that I think could be actual postcards – four from the charming town of Vila Real de Santo António – the last town before reaching Spain, and six from the village of Cacela Velha, a nearby white village overlooking a most charming lagoon and beach.
For when it´s safe to travel again…
Raise your hand if you love weekend trips. I, for one, could easily give up my early vacation and take instead a million small weekend or even day trips. And while given the current circumstances flying off to London or Paris for a weekend is impossible, I love discovering Portugal trip-by-trip. Typically, I see a picture of a place that looks interesting, or even hear a story of a place that is still undiscovered, and plan my way there. This time though, it was a picture of a hotel that guided me yet again to Alentejo – specifically the Ribatejo area this time. The Salvaterra Country House is a small hotel, an hour away from Lisbon and it is serious #nexthouse goals. I discovered it on an Instagram account that aggregates Portugal´s most beautiful hotels for your inspiration – @getawaygoto_portugal and I have been dreaming of it for about a month before finally booking a night there. And so, the day came and we left Lisbon early in the morning, drove up the Tejo river and returned late the next night. Here´s where we went, what we saw, what we ate and what we loved most.
Three cancelled trips later, along with the painful realisation that COVID-19 is here to stay, I (like many others who are privileged enough to even be able to travel during these times) had to rethink the idea of travel for the near to distant future. Out the window with visiting Turkey with my mom, Spain with my best friend or Madeira with my boyfriend, and hello continental Portugal with all it has to offer. And so, after quite a bit of research, this summer´s first trip turned out to be a girls´ trip to Évora, an ancient city about 1,5h from Lisbon. This post is not an ode to Évora though, but a chronicle of how travelling felt like to me during a pandemic.
I am going to go ahead and state the obvious: travelling has taken quite a turn this year. For the ones privileged enough to travel at all, it´s mostly meant shorter and more local getaways. It´s meant rediscovering their areas, or at most their countries, and while I understand some feel constrained by this, I think (re)discovering one´s roots is quite magical. So this pandemic´s first travel article had to be about a place very dear to me, the little coquette town of Cascais – one of the first places I ever discovered in Portugal.