Summer jaunt to Portugal
September 10, 2013 § Leave a comment
In considering a move to Belgium, one must confront the issue of weather: namely, the long, dark, soggy days of winter. Though it would be hard to argue that New York City has a terribly enviable climate, I have to say this has worried me. However, since I was bracing for a winter of discontent, when we arrived here in late June and were greeted by gray skies and freezing rain, I was caught a little off guard (little did we know that this would only last a few days, to be followed by two months of glorious sunshine). We—ok, I—quickly decided that we needed to plan a getaway. We settled on Portugal. (According to Frank’s colleagues, it is very American to go all the way to Portugal for just four days.)
We stayed just north of Porto in an apartment that is part of a small estate. The grounds were lush and beautiful and there was a lovely pool. It felt like a very special retreat. And while we had come seeking sun, we were up in the hills a bit and it was actually quite misty. We had a large terrace, where in the mornings we enjoyed the breakfast basket that was brought to us; in the evenings it was the perfect place for a picnic dinner. It’s possible the few other guests staying there got tired of seeing us in our pajamas.
The first day, we drove to the town of Guimarães, which has a castle that dates to the tenth century and a beautiful, well-preserved palace from the fifteenth century. We only made it to the palace (some members of our group tend to have a short attention span). Luckily there were weapons, armor, and creepy paintings, so it was a popular stop.
During our trip we also visited a market town called Vila Nova de Cerveira as well as Viana do Castelo, a larger city on the coast. And before heading to the airport on our final day, we had a few hours to take a peek at Porto. It was quite sleepy on a Sunday, but we ambled up to the funicular that takes you down to the Rio Douro. The river is spanned by a pretty bridge that was designed by Théophile Seyrig (a Belgian!), a disciple of Gustav Eiffel.