Ponte De Lima and Lindoso

This is a combo post about two of the great little places we visited one day during out drives around Northern Portugal.
IMAG2950

 

The First is Ponte De Lima.  

Ponte De Lima is a cute little Medieval town on the Lima River bank.  It is named after the bridge that crosses the river.

The car park seems odd as you appear to drive on to the bank of the river but aside from this it is an easy place to visit.  The main square is beautiful looking back across the river and the old bridge to churches and countryside.  As always with any town, move away from the main square if you want to save some money on food or drink.  We wander in the streets and enjoy the old village feel.  This town is lovely and I would definitely like to revisit it.  There is a big and famous market that opens every second Monday, all the way along the river bank…alas it is not Monday when we visit.  But this sounds spectacular.

IMAG2908

Lindoso

Lindoso sits within the national park and surrounded by beautiful ruggard countryside.  The area is famous for the old granaries which are called Horrreo.  The Horrero look like little stone houses or tombs, you can find them in some of the towns hidden among the older areas, or all gathered together on hillsides.  Linodoso have a big group that stand together near the castle.

The castle is great, its free to go into except the very inner walls which are only open a small part of the year and coast a couple IMAG2919of euros to get into.  The Castle has a long history and was used up until 1910 by the Portuguese

Government.  We spend an hour walking along the walls and enjoying the view and crumbling history.  It definitely feels like an adventure.

 

Also….The National Park is home to special cow found in this area of Portugal, they are called Arouquesa and they are wonderful.  Look at this guy!!

IMAG2925

 

 

Advertisements

Tawny Elf

We’ve been away and with the new addition to the Elf clan, we have also been very disorganized and didn’t get anything lined up on the site for our away time.  So now we are back and back to business!

We’ve been in Porto and into the Port wine (especially the Tawny, my new favorite thing). 

IMAG2807

We arrive on a Friday morning and catch the metro from the airport into town before walking to our Air B and B.  The metro is relatively easy to use and find within the airport.  Have change with you for this, it makes it so much easier.  You buy a card for 60 cents and then add trips to it.  Two important things to remember: 

1. Once you chose the type of trip (day travel or individual trips) that is the only type of trip you can use the card for.
         2. When you use the machine for the first time remember you need a card per person. When you select 2 trips you will get one card with 2 trips on it.  So best bet is to do them individually. 

Right, boring information bit over.  

We spend our first two day wandering in the streets of Porto.  We walk up the hill into the Cathedral, which is lovely but not as nice as some of the little churches that we discover as we walk around.  But the view from the Cathedral beside the Bishop’s IMAG2822Residence is lovely.  This is a lovely area and well worth a visit.  

We duck into 3-4 different churches which are beautiful all inlaid with gold our favorite is Igreja de Sao Francisco.  Porto is a wonderful place to wander in and the views that open out as you turn a bend in a little alleyway.  The tiled houses with their different colours and the terracotta roof tiles make this city lovely to look at. 

Head across the big iron bridge called Dom Luís I Bridge built by Théophile Seyrig, there are two levels and you can walk across both.  The view from the top level is spectacular. The bridge connects you to Vila Nova de Gaia, which is where the port cellars are.  The view back across the river to Porto is fab.

IMAG2817

Once you are in Vila Nova de Gaia, you will see all the signs pointing you along the water front to the different Port wine cellars.  The different companies offer a variety of tours and tastings, tours only or tastings only.  The best tour and tasting combination (as recommended by a local) is Crofts, to get to Crofts head along the waterfront and past Sandemans and you will see the signs. 

For a good quality tasting head along to Quinta do Noval.  If you want to tour here you will need to book well in advance, at the moment of publishing this blog, the next available tour is in September!  But if you want a good tasting, this is a great place to start.  It is a little more expensive than other options but the quality and different types of wines and ports that you will get to try make it well worth it.  We split the 40 year old taster between four people at a price of 40 euros.  The tasting comes with explanations of each of the wines and ports, how they are made, what the difference in ageing process is, bottling and so on.  Also…wow, so tasty.

More information about Noval here

received_10155372933220859

More from our Northern Portugal adventure soon!

Mersea Island

Mersea Island is a large estuary island in Essex, close to Colchester.  You can grab a train to Colchester or the easiest option is to head out in a car.  It’s about an hour and half in the car and the scenery is lovely especially with the sun shining away.

I love London but sometimes you have to get out of the city and into the green or onto the sand.

Driving through the countryside laughing the time passes easily and we arrive via Colchester, which is quiet a pretty old Roman town.  Colchester is one of the UKs oldest towns and is steeped in history, and was once the capital of Roman Britain before being destroyed during Boadicea’s time.  There is a castle, museum and Roman walls, but we’re on a mission to the seaside!

IMAG2608

A little bit longer in the car and we head into Mersea and follow the signs to the seaside.

There are lots of families and everyone has their dog!  It’s great, we walk along the beach and follow the coast around and then along the coastal path.  There are swans in the water and one side and sail boats the other, we wonder and enjoy the sun and the fresh air.  You will need to keep your shoes on and don’t expect sand between the toes or palm trees.  Its brisk and the sand is full of oyster shells and muscle shells.  Its rugged and stark but wonderful.

IMAG2617

We’re hungry and we’ve a hankering for fish and chips.  My favourite.  We jump back into the car and head back towards West Mersea’s famous oyster bar.  It looks little more than a harbour shed with a pungent fish smell, but inside its full to bursting we are lucky and manage to get a seat.  The girls order oysters…the devil’s snot, not for me.  But, we also have haddock and chips with mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce…and it is amazing, seriously the best fish and chips I think I have ever had (and I eat a lot of fish and chips…it’s my favourite, my go to in pubs across the world).

Such a good day out.  Really everyone should go. Get out in the sun and enjoy.

IMAG2620

Elf in a rowboat

Inspired by the rowers from Cambridge and Oxford that we had the pleasure to see on the weekend, here is a little bit of that dedication and reward echoed here.

“And so in time the rowboat and I became one and the same-like the archer and his bow or the artist and his paint. What I learned wasn’t mastery over the elements; it was mastery over myself, which is what conquest is ultimately all about.”

– Richard Bode, First you have to row a little boat: reflections on like & living

 

…and this one is just for fun!

“Gough was a serious student but found time to gain a blue in rowing; he was later to say that the sport was an apt one for men in public life because you could face one way while going in the other.”

– Mungo MacCallum, The Good the Bad & the Unlikely, Australia’s Prime Ministers

Elf at the Boat Race

After what seems like a very long winter it finally looks like spring is here and just in time for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

The Boat Race can only mean one race, the rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge universities.  The story goes that two old friends called Charles Wordsworth and Charles Merrivale went rowing on the Cam, Charles Wordsworth had attended Christ Church College Oxford and Charles Merrivale was an alumni of St. John’s Cambridge.  Not long after this lovely winter holiday row on the Cam the two friends decided to set up a race!  On February 10th 1829 a letter was sent from St John’s College to Christ Church College:IMAG2597.jpg

‘the University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation.’

….I’ve read up on the history and there are…various dates and slightly different versions of the story, but that is the gist.

Back to present day, we pack a picnic and head over to Putney which is the current day starting line for the race.  There are many different spots where you can gather to watch along the river.  There are also big screens set up on both sides of the river at different points, its worth checking these out, the exact spots change a little each year to have a look in advance.  We get off at Putney Bridge and head down to Bishops Park.  Having the beautiful weather makes such a difference, we sit in the sun and friends join us in the park.  Ten minutes before the women’s race we head to the riverbank to reserve a spot, some ingenious people have climbed trees to get a better view.  The boats are past in moments and we head back into the sunshine.  We repeat for the mens’ race.

IMAG2590.jpgFor a more intense experience head across the bridge and join in the bigger crowds, where there are more drink and food stands.  Bishops Park has a family friendly and lovely friendly atmosphere, it feels like a mass family day out. Definitely enhanced by the wafting smells of the near by BBQ stand.

 

Elf’s Secret London

New adventure to a new place, a rather secret place.

I had never heard of Two Temple Place before but in doing a bit of research for new London adventures I came across the website and was intrigued.

IMAG2541The house is neo-Gothic and stunning in and of its self.  Two Temple Place is not open all year round, but when it is, it hosts an exhibition.  These exhibitions change each time the house is open.  This time around it is Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion.

The exhibition is set across two floors and is interesting, the paintings of Vanessa Bell particular captivates me.  Most of what I have known about Vanessa Bell is in relation to her being Virginia Woolf’s sister, but this exhibition has widened that view and Vanessa Bell’s paintings really are lovely.

The true gem of this visit is, however, the house.  Two IMAG2547Temple Place is just magnificent. The rooms are clad in beautiful and intricately carved wooden panels.  The stained glass roof and windows are breathtaking not only in thee designs but in that amazing feat of survival despite bombing during World War Two.

Its free entry which is great.  The volunteers are enthusiastic and knowledgeable both about the house and the exhibition.  Two Temple Place is open until the 23rd of April and then closes up again until the next exhibition so do get along and have a look whilst you can.

IMAG2545

More information here

It is Lovely to head along to something new in London, a place that is not so popularized and is a little bit unique and different.  Two Temple Place just shows that there is always something new to experience in London.

A bit more poetry Elf

In advance of a related post coming up this week, I want to share something beautiful from a wonderful writer and woman who I find to be very inspiring and too often forgotten.

 

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”

Virginia Woolf