Subject: Holiday in Portugal 2003 .. Trip Report
LISBOA ( LISBON )

Residencial Londrina, very reasonable (45E) has 15 rooms, on what they call the 1st floor, but 2nd to us..very clean and quiet, run by Manuel Coelho and his wife who serve the typical pensao breakfast of rolls/jelly/butter with choice of beverages served in a charming

breakfast room/lounge area. We had Room #115 but would request #117 another time (double paned for noise) with a balcony or another room with a sofa for a bit more space. The location, Rua Castilho, up near Marques Pombal Square, is about a 30 minute walk down Ave

Liberdade to the Rossio and other tourist areas.

We visited the typical tourist sites and particularly enjoyed

watching an artist paint tiles at the Muni Tile Bazaar just before the Lisbon Cathedral (Se) on our walk up thru winding, narrow streets to St. George Castle/Fort where we explored (gratis) the walled fort, courtyards and enjoyed a wonderful panorama of the city. Had

delicious soup at an outside table at the Café right on the grounds. On our way back down, we noticed several interesting restaurants

(Alecantra?) and made notes for a future visit.

Once back in the main downtown, we rewarded ourselves with the most delicious pastries at Casa Brasileira, Rua Augusta 267-269 ( A Must Stop!) and found our way to a kiosk near the post office to buy an all-day tram/autobus/elevator lift pass for the next day at a bargain l.5E each!

We used the Pass on our final day for a long ride to Belem where we toured the exquisite and massive Jerinomos Monastery with its

outstanding architecture; then walked over to the Discovers' Monument and Tower of Belem along the river, and stopped for a visit at the Coaches Museum where a guide took us under her wing and explained

every coach in more detail than we would have known. Finally, a stop at the famous Pastries de Belem for their popular pasteis de nata! That was a full and enjoyable day!

That evening we enjoyed a great dinner/show up in the Bairro Alto district at Adega Machado, $$$ but a good traditional Fado and

Folklore presentation. An alternative is just to use the 15-20E pp cover charge for wine and dessert. It was a grand, final night in Lisboa!

Exceptional restaurants:

Pastelaaria Vontadinhas, 75 Rua Castilho # great bacalhau cozido,

so generous we brought leftovers back to the Coelhos

Catinho Regional Serra da Estrela, located in Amoreis Shopping

Center excellent leitao and soup

Other Pensao Suggestions:

Residencial Castilho, Rua Castilho 57, Phone: 21 386 08 22 Small rooms, but has Air Conditioning, at a reasonable cost

Residencial Duas Nacoes, Rua Agusta & Rua Victoria, 21 346 07 10

Pensao Casal Ribeiro, Rua Braamcamp 10, just up from Marques de Pombal Monument, 386 15 44, 30 rooms, on buslines

FATIMA

Arrived in time for Saturday evening mass in the large cathedral,

very well attended, then walked the square which has several smaller chapels around it and a large candle bin where people purchase and light candles, then recite prayers as they cast them into a large fiery, smoky vat.

We were disappointed that so much commercialism was allowed to almost take over the town; every nook and cranny sells religious articles of some sort.

The Villa Fatima Hotel seems to be the largest in the area. Restaurante O Leque proved an excellent dinner choice.

COIMBRA

The famous University is located way up thru stairways, alleys until one comes upon the large campus square with impressive buildings

surrounding it; it is majestic and outstanding with students

meandering about. Just below is the shopping area which is stone

paved and quite charming. Delicious and many pastelarias around.

CURIA

Our purpose for visiting this little enclave just in from the road via a tree lined driveway entrance was to take its well-known mineral bath. It is open to the public on a set schedule but we were not allowed to take photos within since some clients were receiving water treatments right in the pool. Massages and other therapies are

offerred, some only with a doctor's prescription; it is famed for kidney treatments.

Hotel das Termas Curia, where we stayed, is a grand old property with a large, inviting dining room, very active during summer months.

Gardens and walking paths complete the restful atmosphere. Worth a longer stay another time.

LUSO

Is another spa town, but all treatment here require a physical exam or orders by a doctor; there is an adjacent hotel as well located

smack in the center of town. Luso is home of the well-known bottled Luso Water which is availabe at no cost from fountains in the

square; we had no place to purchase 5 liter jugs but a resident

offered us a filled one, for which we gladly tipped him.

---- Up, Up and Up to Buccaco ----

As we drove up and up, I was hoping that the drive would be worth the effort; no question it was and then some#we came upon a large, old convent building set amidst sculptured gardens.

A bit further up is the prize! Formerly a hunting lodge for kings and dignitaries, the Hotel Buccacco is now open to guests#one really has to see it to believe it..the huge living room fireplace was magnificent # kindalike a molded floor to ceiling biased relief

composition and the archways and architecture were absolutely

breathtaking. One could only imagine the time and effort required

to complete the huge tile artwork on the hallway wall leading up to the second floor.

This is a perfect, quiet spot for a wonderful break on any tour thru the area # elegance at its best with, no doubt, superb service and excellent food. It was not to be for us this trip since we were

moving right along##but, another time!