Archive for March, 2007

Nearly Spring!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Belem park and Jeronimos Monastery Last weekend was glorious in Lisbon – bright and sunny weather which, although temperatures cooled off in the evening, allowed the city to be enjoyed in shirt-sleeves.

 We took advantage of this fact and paid a visit to the Belém district of Lisbon. We arrived quite early, around 09.30h, and since we hadn’t yet had breakfast we headed straight for the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém to sample (again!) the famously delicious Pasteis de Belém; tasty custard tarts in crisp pastry, sprinkled liberally with icing sugar or canela (cinnamon) to taste. As always, the cafeteria was doing a brisk trade but even so it was easy to find a table and enjoy our cheese tostas and then the pasteis, all accompanied by our abatanado coffees (in a larger cup than normal).

After filling ourselves, we headed to the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos to have a quick look round, enjoying the cool stone structure which houses both Vasco da Gama’s and Luis de Camões’ tombs.

Next we slowly walked around the Monastery, marvelling at the tranquil streets and large houses nearby which really make it hard to believe you’re in a major European capital! We made our way to the Tropical Gardens and had a delightfully peaceful stroll in perhaps what is the best time of year to visit, while the weather is not too hot and the grass at its greenest. We saw newly hatched duck chicks and lost count of the different countries represented here by the different trees and plants.

We were almost ready for lunch by this time but had to leave and go back over the river to the south of Lisbon. We therefore missed out on all the other things Belém has to offer, but for sure we’ll be back another day soon to enjoy once again this wonderful area of a wonderful city. See our Belém page for more information.

Tavira

Friday, March 9th, 2007

”Tavira pousada pool It only gets really cold in Lisbon for about ten days out of the year (meaning high temperatures below 10C/50F). It was on one of those days in February that I decided to escape to a warmer place. In Portugal, that means Algarve. It didn’t have swim-in-the-ocean temperatures either, but it was definitely warmer and sunnier.

I chose the town of Tavira. The reason was that it is one of the loveliest and calmest in Algarve, and there is a brand new pousada in town. Since my intent was not to sunbathe by the sea, I did not go to its superb sandy beach at Ilha de Tavira. Instead, I wandered around town, had long unhurried meals at its small traditional restaurants, and relaxed in the pousada.

This pousada is built into a former 16th century convent furnished with modern design, and its best feature in my opinion is the pool outside with views over the town and its whitewashed houses (see picture). It is also surrounded by parts of the town’s ancient wall.

”Tavira pousada cloisters As in other historical-design pousadas, meals (including the usual excellent breakfast) is served by the cloisters. The dinner menu consists of regional dishes mixed with international flavors, and there’s even a vegetarian option for the non-carnivorous.

Tavira itself is a great destination in Algarve. It sets itself apart from other towns in the region for its distinctive vernacular architecture, and in the smaller number of crowds. This is not bustling Albufeira. And its beach is also one of the least crowded in Algarve at any time of the year (even in the summer), and it is one of the most pleasant in the entire province.

See GoLisbon’s Eastern Algarve page for more about Tavira, and check out the Tavira pousada page for further information and booking deals.