Reflecting on my week #87

There’s nothing quite like a good holiday is there? The past ten days or so, I’ve been gallivanting around Lisbon and the Setúbal Peninsula, which you might have seen from my social channels. At its hottest Lisbon was 36 degrees, which is hot and I wasn’t looked forward to walking in those sorts of temperatures.  Luckily though we didn’t have to as as we moved out of the city centre the temperatures dropped by easily ten degrees. Sadly arriving back in London it seems they’ve dropped a further ten degrees but let’s hope that’s just a blip, and now that I’m back in the country the weather will start behaving.

So with a week full of new experiences, places and many photos I thought I’d take a slightly different approach to this post this week. I’m sharing a photo from each day, ahead of something fuller about this trip and will share some narrative about it too.

First up is this cistus, and many like it and it’s pink flowered version too. Along our walks, and on this day it was around the Cabo de Espichel, we saw many of these plants but few in flower. They also have a distinctive scent, often used in perfume, but it was in the Alentejo region that we first encountered these plants in full bloom along the coastline, and since then they’ve been a favourite.

CISTUS ON TUESDAY

CISTUS ON TUESDAY

They’re drought-loving plants, and have adapted for the warmer climate - the leaves are thinner and more waxy than the same plants in the UK, and I think their scent is stronger too.  Either way they were a welcome addition to our walk, which also saw a goat herd walk by us and much closer than I expected.

In our third stop of the holiday (second of the walking element) our room was much more traditional and included these traditional Portuguese rugs. They were beautiful, but in a tiled floor a little problematic unless secured by furniture like this one.  

WEDNESDAY: TRADITIONAL PORTUGUESE RUGS

WEDNESDAY: TRADITIONAL PORTUGUESE RUGS

This picture is of the gardens at José Maria Fonseca winery in Azeitao where we opted for a tour and a tasting. The winery is one of Portugal’s oldest, and one of two in the relatively small town. We’d hoped to take a tour at Bacalhôa too, but the timings didn’t work out. We did get to wander around their gardens too though, and they were quite different to this. 

THURSDAY: THE GARDENS DURING A VINEYARD TOUR

THURSDAY: THE GARDENS DURING A VINEYARD TOUR

Friends saw us spend most of the day walking to the place we would have dinner. The eleven or so miles included a brief stop for lunch and about 4km of an overgrown path, which at times made you feel like you were losing the battle against and at others like David Attenborough. It was all worth it though, as this was our view for dinner, and yes, there was a taxi home that night!

FRIDAY: WORTH THE WALK

FRIDAY: WORTH THE WALK

The next day saw us move hotels again, walking through meadows and numerous Sesimbra windmills like this, and actually in all manner of states of repair, or disrepair. I lost count how many we passed, eight maybe nine, or more. I’m sure I’ll be able to work out how many from the photos, though on our walk the following day we spotted some more, so that may well confuse things. These though were along a ridge and were visible from our base at the Pousada.  

SATURDAY: A DAY FOR WINDMILLS 

SATURDAY: A DAY FOR WINDMILLS 

I thought the shape of the windmills were familiar, they were similar to the one in Odeceixe, which I shared a while back, and had since forgoall about until these jogged my memory.

The walk on Sunday was circular rather than ‘moving on‘ and while there was only a 380m descent and ascent in the whole 12.7km walk, they came right at the start and right on top of each other too. In reality I’m less signed up for the circular walks, don’t get me wrong they’re usually good, but for me they don’t have real purpose, unlike the ‘move on’ days when you’re walkito the next hotel. So when there’s down and a very steep up, I was all for jacking it in except for the fact that I’d already done the down, so whatever happened I’d need to go up again. I was close to saying that line amount a smart ass, you know the one I mean. 

But anyway, we did the walk and when it moderated itself it improved. We knew there wouldn’t be any bar or cafe stops along the way on this one so our plan was to eat on the way back, grab a bottle of wine and some snacks and have another hotel room picnic. I mean, we like food, but we find hotel stays are often dominated by food and quite often at times when we’re not hungry.  

SUNDAY: A BROKEN CORK, BUT WINE DID FOLLOW

SUNDAY: A BROKEN CORK, BUT WINE DID FOLLOW

We did manage to put the plan in action, but the slight spanner in the works was the cork breaking in the bottle of wine for that evening. With only a Swiss Army Knife corkscrew (which by definition are smaller than a usual household corkscrew) and with much perseverance MOH eventually broke in, but not without a red wine blow back which saw us wiping down splatters in the bathroom and rinsing out his (thankfully pale pink) linen shirt. 

The wine - from Quinta de Piloto - was pretty good, we’d stopped off during the walk and bought it direct for just €9, so it was worth the effort. Actually throughout this trip we’ve drunk some decent Portuguese wines, so I’d definitely recommend trying some. 

We landed at City airport yesterday evening in the chilly wet weather, with perhaps not the best footwear, but travelling home from holidays isn’t about being sensible all of the time is it?  

MONDAY: ARRIVING BACK IN A WET UK, WHAT HAPPENED TO SUMMER?

MONDAY: ARRIVING BACK IN A WET UK, WHAT HAPPENED TO SUMMER?

It’s back to work today though, and back to normal with perhaps a hint of holiday resolve and good intentions thrown in, and of course many, many photos to sort through and edit from our adventures. There’s definitely plenty to share, and even a loo or two for the Loo Series too. 

Reflecting on my week #86

Last weekend was a weekend for getting jobs done, and that continued through most of the week with the focus changing to work, rather than home. Though of course there was always more, on both lists, that could probably be done, but that is often my way. The plan to be prepared and pack way in advance, didn’t quite materialise, and as ever there was the “how heavy is my case” guessing game after the bathroom scales refused point blank to even guesstimate the weight.

As it turned out, and despite us thinking that we had plenty with us, at the airport our luggage was woefully under the 23kg weight limit per bag, so no pre-worrying (however light) was needed. In fact, we were 16kg off the total limit, and it did make me wonder what on earth people take with them.  The check in staff looked even more surprised when they saw the (small) size of our hand luggage, but so far I’m sure we have everything we need with us. 

There was a bit of a scare though as l started to lightly unpack in our Lisbon apartment - I couldn’t see MOH’S toiletry bag, and had the sinking feeling that perhaps it wasn’t in the case after all. Turns out it was, it was the one thing he’d unpacked.  

Panic over, and I could go back to enjoying the rooftop view before we headed out for that initial explore where tuk-tuks, funiculars, trams and plenty of tiles were all spotted.  A pizza and beers were also quickly devoured under the bluest of skies, as somehow airports seem to make me ravenous. 

THE VIEW FROM OUR APARTMENT  

THE VIEW FROM OUR APARTMENT  

THE PROMISE OF TILES TO COME

THE PROMISE OF TILES TO COME

A FUNICULAR  

A FUNICULAR  

With life its usual busy self, we'd booked our holiday but with very little planning for our time in Lisbon, the only definite was that MOH wanted to watch the Champions League Final, which was fair enough. So the question of what we were actually going to do, prompted some serious planning so we could make the most of the three nights and two days in the city.

And the first of our days here was spent in Belém admiring many of its monuments. Belém is just a short (three stops) train journey from Cais do Sodre, and well worth the trip, though the Tropical Botanical gardens which I was keen to visit was shut, as we discovered as we arrived at its gate. 

THE MONUMENTS TO THE DISCOVERIES

THE MONUMENTS TO THE DISCOVERIES

WAITING TO GO INTO BELÉM TOWER

WAITING TO GO INTO BELÉM TOWER

OIUTSIDE THE MONASTERIES OF JERÓNIMOS

OIUTSIDE THE MONASTERIES OF JERÓNIMOS

Getting a tram was obviously on our list, as was eating plenty of those fabulous Portuguese custard tarts, and as it turned out, our first of each were linked. We hadn’t planned our return journey back and while sitting enjoying some tapas and vinho verde we realised we were overlooking the terminus for tram 18. After not seeing the botanical gardens and wondering what do do next, a tram pulled in, we worked out it would take us back and so we jumped on it. And for that first stop, we had it to ourselves which given everything I’d cram-read that morning wasn’t what I expected at all. 

PASTEL DE NATA

PASTEL DE NATA

I took many photos of buildings from the tram and will no doubt share those once we’re home, but the let’s continue with how the trams and tarts. Once off the tram, which did fill up as expected, we found ourselves wondering what to do next. The Timeout Market was on our list of ‘must sees’ and although we expected to do this the next day, when it presented itself right in front of us, we’ll lets just say gift horse and mouth. And pastel de nata.

TILES! SOME OF MANY (AND I MEAN MANY)

TILES! SOME OF MANY (AND I MEAN MANY)

Throughout the day we’d spotted many of these purple flowering trees and wondered what they were. They had a similar appeal to the cherry blossom in Greenwich Park and were much photographed.  Back at the apartment later Google told me they are Lisbon Jacarandas, and the flowers signify the start of summer, and with temperatures above thirty degrees, and reaching 36 on Sunday, they probably weren’t wrong.

THE PRETTY LISBON JACARANDAS  

THE PRETTY LISBON JACARANDAS  

Our second day was supposed to include a tram ride and the market, but in a rare spate of getting ahead of ourselves the next on our list was to visit the Alfama, or old part of the city. Despite the increasing heat we set off on foot, purposefully taking a different route through the city, heading towards Rossio down these steps, which went on and on. One step on each and you’d get down them pretty quickly and at speed, but two steps on each and you (well I) felt like a doddering old lady, so a combination of the two was adopted I’ll say successfully as I didn’t fall over (though it was probably close)

STEPS! 

STEPS! 

After some people watching in the streets around Rossio, another market and a stop off for drinks and to visit one of the churches along the way, we reached Alfama, which seemed to be adorned in a vast supply of tinsel throughout its narrow lanes. It had the feel of a great party the night before and of gearing up to do it all again, but not just yet.  So after an extensive wander we headed back towards Rossio in search of tapas.

IN THE ALFAMA DISTRICT  

IN THE ALFAMA DISTRICT  

Once again we struck gold. Octopus in a confit of peppers, lime shrimps and chorizo cooked in moscatel with mushrooms along with a refreshing glass of vinho verde. All that was needed was a custard tart, so back we went to the market, this time using the Metro as a concession to the day’s temperatures. There are obviously plenty of other places to eat and enjoy custard tarts, but our plan was to stop off at a wine bar we’d spotted the day before with the most amazing vaulted bottle ceiling. 

IMG_8830.JPG

Looking at it more closely it was also a feat of engineering, but more on that another day. Today we’re moving on to the second phase of our trip and heading down to the Arrábida Natural Park on the Setúbal Peninsula, which is just a stone’s throw from Lisbon, but which I’m expecting to be totally different.

I’d better go, I’ve some packing to do...

Adding some Hotter pastel travel sandals to my holiday wardrobe

* This post contains an item that was gifted

One of my pre-holiday rituals is working out what to pack, that might sound an obvious thing to do, and it is, but bear with me. I have a tendency to overpack, I realise that that might also not be news, but my ploy now is to get out what I want to take, review it, prune it and try again. What I’ve learnt from this approach is that while I still overpack a bit, it’s way less than before, but also it’s a good way, for me for working out the flexibility that the clothes I take will bring.

Planning my holiday wardrobe

On the left the bottom white, navy, brown with pink spots and pale blue pile is my shorts.  To the right is my t-shirts and on top are vest tops. It’s far from a capsule wardrobe, I’ll admit but already I can see that I have options, with vest tops, t-shirts and shorts all earning their place in my suitcase. 

Which is good news, as for our upcoming holiday we’re combining a city stay with a walking holiday, and while both will be casual unless it’s super hot then I’m not much of a shorts in the city kind of girl,  I’ve  got some 3/4 length trousers lined up for there, plus a slightly smarter pair for evenings, which will also double up for the walking part of our holiday for evenings, and if we’re unlucky on not so sunny days.

But, as ever, it’s shoes that are my achilles heel (pun not quite intended).  Something comfortable to wear walking around the city, and then again practical for a proper walking holiday in Portugal’s Serra Arrabida on the Setúbal Peninsula, which we’re led to believe is virtually undiscovered.  With walks generally over 10 km each day, the longest walk is 18 km - a circular walk at that on day four,  and terrains that include forest tracks, country lanes, valleys and ridges proper, supportive and comfortable footwear will be needed. 

And that’s often where I struggle.  I have plenty of footwear, and more recently I’ve acquired plenty of flatter options too, but still none that I’d deem appropriate enough for such a trek.  So when Hotter offered me the chance to add their travel sandals to my walking holiday wardrobe and I realised that the pastel colourway was in ‘my colours’, how could I refuse?

hotter travel sandals will fit right in with my holiday wardrobe

When they arrived, my instincts about how well they matched my wardrobe was proved right.  There’s pinks, lilacs and blues as well as the greys, and holding them up against the clothes I’m planning to take shows that.  Trying them on  was the icing on the cake, they’re as comfortable as I’ve come to expect from Hotter shoes, and so I’ve a feeling that any dragging my feet on that long circular walk, won’t be due to my footwear. 

* This shoes were gifted by Hotter Shoes to review, I’ll be sharing how they - and my feet - fared on our upcoming walking holiday, as usual all views and opinions shared here and in my future posts are and will be my own.