it’s been pretty rainy here in portugal for a while, so i’ve been catching up on some summer photos that i never posted. this is a set taken at the end of august around peniche which is about an hour north of lisbon. the town itself isn’t as nice as some of the other beach towns on the coast, but the beaches around peniche (and the surfing) are really good.
last week my mom and sister came to visit the land of tiles and cobblestones which gave us an excuse to travel down to the algarve for a few days. we stayed in sagres which is the very southwestern tip of portugal and it’s about a 3.5 hour drive from lisbon. on our way home we stopped in albufeira for lunch and i saw this salute to the famous 7-11.
great. we finally have a car. it’s a rental… but for a long time. so, on saturday we leave our house ready for a hike and guess what… it’s not where i parked it. ok, probably towed, maybe stolen. so i make a few confusing portuguese phone calls, and they have it. after another confusing phone call in portuguese we find the lot where they tow the cars and after an hour of paperwork, and some euros, the car is ours again.
great. but i don’t want that to happen again so on monday i head to the parking office to try and get a residential permit for our rented car and magically they give me one. but!, it’s not just a regular permit, it’s one that allows us access to the historic traffic controlled zone of our neighborhood where apparently there is more parking (earlier i was told that we couldn’t get this).
great. i use the card to access the neighborhood and, ummmm… it doesn’t work. so i have to go back to the office and get a new access card, and today for the first time the card worked. a portuguese christmas miracle.
ps, the car is a hyundai. so much for experiencing a small european diesel hatchback. but for a hyundai it’s not that bad.
last weekend we finally went to visit “the mountains” in portugal. the region is called serra da estrela and it’s a 3.5 hour drive from lisbon. at the highest point there is a ski area (300 vertical feet) which we opted out of since it’s about the same size as the ski hill i grew up on in wisconsin.
the region is known for its cheese (which is good), its wool (the shepherds look ancient w/ wool capes and staffs), its hills (which have trails that are hardly marked, and no portuguese explore), and its villages (which are really nice and still have the flavor of how things used to be here). they also have these face eater dogs that are from the region, and when you come upon one while hiking they go nuts and sound like they want to eat my entire face off. luckily they were all behind fences.
last weekend we went to serra da estrela. it’s the highest mountain range in the country with the tallest peak standing at 6,539 feet. i’ll post more later, but here is a video showing the drive from our hotel through some really narrow village streets. this was the only way to get to the hotel. good thing our car was small.
two weekends ago we went to porto with some friends. it’s where they make port wine. porto is the 2nd largest city in portugal, and from what we saw it looks like it has hit some hard times. there are loads of large ornate buildings that are abandoned with broken windows, boarded up, and dirty. it seems like maybe 50 or 80 years ago porto was really on it. as with all large portuguese cities it’s got some really cool modern stuff too. the metro is clean and new, they have high speed train access to lisbon, and there is a concert hall designed by rem koolhaas called casa da musica. rem koolhaas also designed a spaceship-like library in seattle so it was cool to see another building in the same style, and after seeing both, i think that casa da musica is better.