Sunday, April 30, 2017

Extra time in Porto

The only thing John and I remember from our earlier visit to Porto was riding the train through the Douro Valley and going to up to some viewpoint in the city center. We thought we would spend some extra time in Porto this visit.

At a first look Porto is very likable city, built on the steep hills of the Douro River Valley, crisscrossed by interesting bridges, scenic viewpoints abound. It failed to charm me, though John liked it. Maybe there were too many visitors, many came from cruise ships. Maybe Porto's top two attractions, seafood and port, are completely orthogonal to us. Maybe the city's top bookstore charges a four-euro admission and there is always a line outside; this to an avid reader is a sacrilege against the intuition of bookstores!

The highlight of our Porto visit has to be the opportunity of meeting up with our friend Jinyi who lives in Beijing and is vacationing in Portugal and Spain. Glad to be living in this century when such a rendezvous is easily organized.

On the bus from Amarante to Porto.
On the bus from Amarante to Porto, Portugal

Sao Bento Train Station, Porto. It's always full of photographers it seems. And rightly so; it's a beauty.
Sao Bento Station - Porto, Portugal

Porto has plenty of hills.
Porto, Portugal

A busker on the waterfront.
Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

No shortage of tables with a view.
Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

View out the Douro River to the Atlantic Ocean.
Porto, Portugal

Porto has a good number of city parks.
Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

And there is a Modernist and an Art Deco, 1930's-ish, above ground parking garage. Wow!
Garagem do Comércio do Porto - Modernist Parking Garage - Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Plus the Teatro Rivoli.
Porto, Portugal

Not to mention the Louie Louie Record Shop.
Louie Louie Record Shop - Porto, Portugal

Plenty of churches in Porto.
Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Santa Catarina shopping street.
Porto, Portugal

There are some great views from the Dom Luis Bridge and surrounds.
Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

The bridge at night.
Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Walking the narrow streets of the Old Town with a view to the Cathedral.
Porto, Portugal

Our apartment overlooked Liberdade Plaza. And since it was the weekend of Liberty Day, a national holiday, there were concerts, fireworks, and parades there.
Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

The old jail is now a photography museum.
Porto, Portugal

Spy cameras on display.
Porto, Portugal

Sun-Ling and Jinyi (left).
Porto, Portugal












Monday, April 24, 2017

Quick visit to Amarante

Amarante is another last minute addition. It's a small picturesque town on a river. We happened to be in town on a Saturday, just the right mix of locals and tourists. The best part was getting to know another of Picasso's contemporaries, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, who was born in Armante...The more of Picasso's accomplished contemporaries I uncover somewhat vindicates my prejudice against Picasso; at least in my mind.

The bus ride from Guarda to Viseu to Vila Real and through the Douro River Valley to Amarante was visually spectacular.
On road to Amarante, Portugal

Amarante is on the Tâmega River, a tributary of the Douro.
Amarante, Portugal

Our good fortune: the sole vegetarian restaurant in Amarante was nearby, open, and served a tasty curry dish as the prato do dia (dish of the day).
Amarante, Portugal

I suspect these folks are a hiking club as they were huddled over a thick binder of laminated topo maps. Not to mention the spiffy hats.
Amarante, Portugal

At the de Souza-Cardoso exhibit.
Amarante, Portugal

Amarante, Portugal

Scenic Amarante and the Tâmega River.
Amarante, Portugal

Amarante, Portugal

Amarante, Portugal

Amarante, Portugal

Amarante, Portugal



Sunday, April 23, 2017

On Guarda

Guarda only made it onto our itinerary less than two weeks ago. We are glad for the switch. Guarda, at 1000 meters above sea level, bills itself as the highest city in Portugal. We had in mind to do some hiking. Even though the online maps show a smattering of trails, it was not immediately obvious where to go. Since Guarda has enough historical monuments, it does not really to promote its hiking potential.

In the end, with the help of the tourist office, we made two great day hikes. The first day, we made a 23 km loop out of the popular the Quinta do Maunca hike. The second day, we took the bus to Frenao Joanes and walked back to town - 16 kms. Both days we crisscrossed the Portuguese Camino (Way of St James) many times, first we have come across in Portugal.

Guarda itself is another one of those towns -- what does everyone do here?!

Waiting for our bus to pull in to Bay 6; somewhere between Coimbra and Guarda.
Portugal

We had a 1 hour "layover" in Viseu so we walked up the hill to visit the Old Town.
Viseu, Portugal

Viseu, Portugal

We pulled into Guarda around 5PM and trudged uphill to the Hotel Santos were we had a reservation. It wasn't until the next morning that we realized the hotel was literally built against the old granite city wall. Very cool!
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

The next day we headed straight to the tourist office when it opened at 9AM and got some great information on local hikes, studied them some, and set out on a 23 km loop that was very rewarding. The walk started right at the city wall and the old road.
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

This part of the walk was also part of the Portuguese Camino (Way of St James); see stone cross and windmill.
Guarda, Portugal

We turn away from the Camino and follow the windmills. First time in my life so close to modern windmills.
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Heading towards Alvendre, Portugal

We reach the village of Alvendre; nothing much happening but they have a fountain or two, and many stone dwellings.
Alvendre, Portugal

Alvendre, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

We cross the expressway and walk by the railroad tracks where there's some farming.
Guarda, Portugal

The last 4kms (all uphills) are through Guarda, and we spot some low maintenance lawns and a Chinese store (inports).
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Finally we pick up some provisions at the spiffy new Mall (right) which is across the street from the old City Wall.
City Wall (left), Shopping Mall (right) - Guarda, Portugal

Day Two: AM walk around town; then ride the bus about 15 kms SE and walk back to the hotel. Here's a city gate.
Guarda, Portugal

On the old square.
Guarda, Portugal

The granite Cathedral with tourists (right) and construction crane (left).
Guarda, Portugal

The Modernist bank building.
Guarda, Portugal

We take to bus to Fernao Joanes and start walking, but first we walk up to the town's "threshing stones".
Guarda, Portugal

Of course there is a fountain and a community oven.
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

A few kms later, in nearby Meios, we spot a community clothes washing tank; the first of several that day.
Guarda, Portugal

We are on the Camino again!
Guarda, Portugal

We begin a long descent to the river, and will eventually climb out of the valley on the switchbacks of the dirt road (left center) in the distance.
Guarda, Portugal

Stone Chapel on the Camino.
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Cross the river and up the other side.
Guarda, Portugal

We took a short break a few meters too close to this flighty stork's nest.
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

We reach a plateau of sorts with a 360 view (from atop a concrete pylon) at the Old Fort.
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Guarda, Portugal

Then back into Guarda and the hotel.
Guarda, Portugal

But first a quick stop for provisions at the La Vie ... which has self-checkout!
Guarda, Portugal


THE END









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