Finally, some Lisbon sunshine!

After a lot of drizzle, our final day in Lisbon was beautiful, and warm enough to take off the coats despite it being December. We took advantage of the weather and headed up to the castle to take in the views of the city.

Panorama

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Despite the sunshine, the threatening clouds didn’t disappear completely!

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Just one more note before my Lisbon posts come to an end, don’t queue for the Santa Justa Lift. We queued for nearly an hour without getting particularly close to the lift and then realised that you can also get to the viewpoint by going up some steep streets! Although I did take the photos below while we were waiting so all was not lost.

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Off on a few UK weekend trips away next and I also plan to do some more photography projects at home as it’s been a while, so watch this space.

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Lisbon & the Tagus River

Before heading to Lisbon I have to admit that I thought that the city was on the coast, with the Atlantic lapping at its feet. But it actually sits on the northern bank of the River Tagus, not far from where the river meets the sea.

We enjoyed walking along the river which does feel more like the coast at this point as it is so wide. The 25 de Abril Bridge is a landmark of the river and with The Sanctuary of Christ the King on the other side of the river overlooking the city you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a mix of San Franciso and Rio de Janeiro!

We got the train further downstream to Belém, which is just 100km upriver from the Atlantic. Belém is home to some beautiful architecture and also the famous Pastéis de Belém – and yes it is worth the queue. We had a lot of custard tarts on this holiday and that was definitely the best.

The weather wasn’t on our side once again, but I really like these shots of the 25 de Abril Bridge and the solitary figure in the foreground.

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The images below are of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos which celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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The looming threat of rain did make for some atmospheric photos!

The Belém Tower is a beautiful sight and with its ornate decoration I had thought it might just be a decorative feature, but with his Wikipedia searches during the trip, my boyfriend filled me in on its history. The painting below brings alive its history, as a defence for Lisbon and a gateway to the city.Combat_du_Tage

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Look out for the next post with photographs from when we finally got some sunshine and headed up to the castle for the views of the city on our last morning.

 

A drizzly day in Lisbon

If you’ve read my post about our trip to Porto, you would know that the next stop on our trip was Lisbon! We got the train between the two cities and soon found ourselves in the hustle and bustle of Portugal’s capital.

Despite hoping for some crisp and bright winter days in Lisbon, and arriving in gorgeous sunshine, we were then treated to an endlessly drizzly day! But, undeterred by the soggy conditions, we explored the Alfama district of the city. It’s one of the oldest parts of Lisbon and was originally an area of extreme poverty outside the city walls. Now it is, as one guide puts it, a ‘fashionable artisan district”. We took the advice of the guides and left the map behind, keen to get lost in the maze of cobbled streets!

I like the atmosphere the weather gives my photos from this part of the trip, even if the conditions weren’t quite as pleasant for exploring the streets!

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I love this display of artificial flowers!

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There was a lot of graffiti in the Alfama District and I loved this one in particular! I wasn’t so keen on the graffiti telling tourists to go home, but it does seem to be a sensitive issue in the city. I’m not one to comment as I was a tourist myself, but if tourists start having a detrimental effect on the residents of the city or driving people out then it is understandable.

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It’s a fantastic area to explore, and we headed back at night to find some Fado! We had visited the Fado museum earlier that day but nothing beats sitting in a dark bar with a glass of port and the intensely emotional sound of voices and guitars filling the air. Despite not understanding a word, I was in the palm of their hands! And despite knowing it was a tourist trap (we’d been beckoned off the street with an English leaflet thrust into our hands), the music itself certainly felt authentic.

A couple more posts to come on Lisbon as there was so much to see, including the views from the castle on a much brighter day, and our trip to Belem (and yes, we did queue 45 minutes for a pastel de nata…)

Porto

 

Back at the start of the month, we spent 5 days in Portugal. I hadn’t been to Portugal before and was looking forward to exploring somewhere new – especially the food and drink!

Our first destination was Porto. Porto is a beautiful city, piled on top of a very steep hill which runs right down to the Douro river – the link between Porto, the port wine houses where the wine ages and the vineyards further upstream where this delicious wine starts its journey. We visited Caves Ferreria for a tour and of course a tasting. This has started a bit of a port drinking habit but it’s just so delicious!

I tried lots of bacalhau (cod) during the trip cooked in a variety of ways, and of course plenty of pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) but they truly came into their own in Lisbon – our next destination!

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This beautiful square and church were just minutes from our Airbnb.

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The city – piled up high!

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The sunsets over Porto! I love the light in this shot.

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As the sun set, I captured this shot of one of the boats that was once used to transport the Port down the river. I had a bit of a play with Photoshop on this one, and although some may say it’s overused, I like the way this effect brings out the vibrancy of the boat against the striking structure behind it.

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A surprising encounter when exploring the streets around the Port wine houses.

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This derelict and possibly burnt out building caught my eye as we were admiring the view of the city from the other side of the river.

Porto was great fun and we really enjoyed exploring this city with its stunning views and steep hills. Look out for my next post with my snaps from our time in Lisbon!

 

Scotland – day 6

Our final morning arrived much too quickly and we drove back to Inverness to drop off our car and catch the plane home. But first, we went for a walk through the city and to Ness Islands.

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We had such a fantastic trip exploring the highlands and would love to return again to explore some more. Any suggestions would be welcome!

Scotland – day 5

After a wonderful breakfast in our castle (that will never get old), we headed to the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary in Oban. I had hoped to see some otters and seals in the wild, but a trip to the Sea Life Sanctuary guaranteed that we would see some and it was also interesting to learn about the amazing work they do. It also meant that we saw some adorable cubs in the seal hospital, and I’ve just seen on Twitter that one of those cubs has now been released back into the wild.

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For our final night we would be back in Fort William, so we decided to drive back the scenic route taking in Kilchurn Castle, which took some finding! It was built in the mid-1400s but was abandoned in the 1700s.

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The next part of our scenic tour back to Fort William took in the stunning Glen Coe, which I have to admit did overwhelm me in its beauty and scale.

 

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Felt like we’d just been sent up someone’s drive…

 

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Glen Coe in the distance

 

 

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Glen Coe certainly felt like the climax of our trip, and it felt quite humbling standing in the middle and taking it all in.

For our last evening, we had a lovely meal in the Garrison West, a friendly pub where the bar staff talked us through some whiskeys! It was a gorgeous sunset for our last night, but unfortunately, I had left my camera at the hotel so I took these on my phone.

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A beautiful end to our last night on this trip.

 

Scotland – day 4

On day 4 we left Inverness and headed to the highest mountain in the UK – Ben Nevis. It was yet another stunning drive.  We had a bit of disappointment on the way as we looked at getting the Mountain Gondola and having lunch up a mountain however it was closed due to high winds.

We’re not hugely experienced walkers and after reading some blogs and also a rather threatening paragraph in a walking book we decided not to attempt Ben Nevis. I didn’t want to be a statistic!

So after a spot of lunch in Fort William, we drove through Glen Nevis and headed for another walk, Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge. Although the sign at the start didn’t do much to help my confidence, especially as I had recently gone flying on the Old Man of Storr, “Fatal accidents DO occur by falling from this path”.

But we set off, and it was well worth it. Although crossing waterfalls on wet rocks with just a massive drop on one side did get my heart racing!

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It was so cloudy and overcast we didn’t ever see the top of Ben Nevis, but we knew it was there – looming above us!

After getting back to the car we headed towards Oban, and to our big treat. We stayed in Premier Inns for the whole holiday, apart from one night where a castle waited for us. We stayed in Barcaldine Castle, also known as The Black Castle. A B&B with a difference! I couldn’t recommend staying here enough, the staff were amazing, the room was gorgeous, the views were perfection and breakfast was delicious.

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Not a bad view … 

Once we’d got over the excitement of staying in a castle, we headed to Oban for a seafood dinner. What a day!

Day 5 includes seals, otters and Glen Coe …