Posted on Leave a comment

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 4/4) – Portugal

Portinho-da-Arrabida-002---Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 4/4) – Portugal

Sesimbra is one of the jewels of this quadrant

South/West Quadrant

When I turn to the quadrant W/S and face down, exactly where we will have to go to get out of here, I see some crosses on the silhouette of the hills to the sea. They belong to the Arrábida Convent complex.

By their modesty and quiet life, isolation and description, this convent always has an aura of mystery around it. Looking at the road we see a complex of old buildings and, further up, across the hills, a set of shrines and crosses that give us the feeling of being meditation cells of the monks of the convent.

The construction of the Arrábida Convent dates back to the 16th century and today covers four structures: the Old Convent, the New Convent, the garden and the Bom Jesus sanctuary.

A local curiosity refers to the existence of a chapel prior to the construction of the convent and it was a place of pilgrimages. A long time ago, four of the friars who came to join the convent, lived for two years in excavated cells … hard life.

Toward the West, we can’t see the village of Sesimbra because is in between two hills. Sesimbra is a small fishing village with a very busy port and also has a beach that is filled with swimmers during the summer. Summer nights in Sesimbra are animated by the numerous restaurants that serve fish dishes grilled on barbecues in the middle of the streets. 

Continuing West we have the Cape Espichel, whose sea view is also fabulous and is an excellent spot for night photography on Full Moon days.

Maybe it’s time to walk down … This is a great walk that I will repeat whenever I can, perhaps in the gallery of the most emblematic walks in Portugal.

One day I will walk up here to stay overnight and see the sunrise.

David Monteiro

Posted on Leave a comment

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 3/4) – Portugal

Portinho-da-Arrabida-001---Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 3/4) – Portugal

Facing Lisbon from the hilltop.​

North/West Quadrant

In this quadrant, you can see Lisbon and from the city, I can only distinguish little more than a jungle of houses that seem to be glued to the Sintra Hills, is the effect of a view from a far distance because, in reality, Sintra is a 30 minutes drive from Lisbon.

In this direction I can see many vineyards and, although I have difficulty to distinguish them, I know that two wine producers that are considered to be in the gallery of the best wine producers in Portugal: Quinta da Bacalhôa and José Maria da Fonseca.

Somewhere there you can find Moscatel grapes used for the production of the famous wine “Moscatel de Setúbal”. The “Moscatel de Setúbal” wine is considered the best in Moscatel in the world. “Moscatel de Setúbal” wine is a fortified wine of amber color, which I love.

Watch this 2 minutes and 30 seconds funny and interesting video that pretty much explains the “Moscatel de Setúbal”.

In the small village of Azeitão one can also find two other extraordinary products: Azeitão cheese and pies of Azeitão (Tortas de Azeitão).

The cheese of Azeitão is a small cheese made with sheep’s milk, yellow-colored and very soft, buttery, excellent for spreading on toast.

Tortas de Azeitão is a small cake rolled up, made from flour and eggs, and is delicious.

to be continued …

Posted on Leave a comment

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 2/4) – Portugal

Serra-da-Arrábida-003---Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 2/4) – Portugal

At the Formosinho hilltop.​

North/East Quadrant

When I turn on eastbound I’m in the direction of Setúbal, despite not being able to see the city I can see the end of its industrial belt which creates me mixed feelings. In my mind is contradictory the need for development with the awareness of a natural environment conservation of a diversified place as the river Sado estuary.

Looking in the direction of Alcochete, almost facing the north side, I try to see the Ribatejo plain areas but I can’t any longer distinguish the settlements.

Setúbal, where our famous 18th and 19th-century writer Bocage was born and to whom is attributed a lot of anecdotes and naughty sayings.

to be continued …

Posted on Leave a comment

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 1/4) – Portugal

Serra-da-Arrábida-001---Portugal

Arrabida Natural Park, a special walk (part 1/4) – Portugal

I’m at the top of the Arrábida Hills. Around me a breathtaking view makes me wonder why don’t I come here more often … I love this spot.

The look on my teammates faces is tells me they can’t find words to express themselves. They are expressing fragmented and disconnected ideas, is amazing.

We are at the summit of the Arrábida Hills. Is called Formosinho, has 501 m high and is the highest point of the Setúbal’s District.

For many mountaineers reaching the mountains’s summits is an end in itself. I do not feel that call.

For me reaching the summit is interesting, sure is, but I tend to value more the all journey, the going up and the returning from as a all.

This is not a difficult summit to climb neither represents a true challenge in any way. So, what on Earth make’s it so interesting?

The type of view we can have from here is so diverse and so full of details that there are not many summits like this, is one of a kind.

From here we see the sea, the mountains, other small ridges, the cropland with vineyards, the fruit tree fields, the urban sites … is so diverse that for each side we turn we have a unique setting. 

The vision of the sea is the one that attracts me the most, there seems to be an endless beach. I fell in love by this 360-degree vision. 

For ease of explanation, in the map I marked the Formosinho summit with a red dot and I divided the post in the 4 quadrants of a compass. In counterclockwise I will write about each quadrant at a time.

South/East Quadrant

The Tróia peninsula dominates the landscape, a long tongue of sand headed by some buildings I know to be with summer apartments. More into the ocean, in front of the “head” of this peninsula, there is a large sand outer ring that during the low tide it turns to an immense beach.

On the river Sado side, I imagine the dolphins I can see when I’m there. I know their names, which gives me a pleasant sensation of familiarity.

Tróia has a quite interesting Roman heritage I will explore in a dedicated post.

From Setúbal to Tróia there’s a ferry that crosses the river. I always liked this crossing, is an excellent boat trip.

From the top I can see some green dots moving on the river, are the new ferries crossing the river.

Here I cannot see all of the river Sado estuary but to by seeing this river mouth I remember some hidden places in the estuary which are authentic treasures, such as the archaeological station of Abul with its Phoenician heritage.

In this quadrant by the sea is where you will find the most impressive beach area of the surroundings. Portinho da Arrábida, Figueirinha and Galapos are really the best beaches around … crystal clear waters, fabulous.

to be continued …

Posted on Leave a comment

Visiting Portugal – where to go, what to visit?

iberactive-portugal--(28)

Visiting Portugal – where to go, what to visit?

Where to go, what to do when visiting Portugal?

Where to go, what to do when visiting Portugal, must be the question I answer more often in this context.

Of course, the answer will always depend on who is asking. Not everyone enjoys doing the same things.

Not only will depend on individual preferences but also depends on the time and money you have available to spend in this country.

My answer could be very different for those who want to visit Portugal for walking vacations or for those who want to spend some time in Portugal relaxing on the beach or visiting museums.

However, I will try to simplify the idea and try to draw a plan to the visitor who wants to spend some time in Portugal, having active vacations but not necessarily for walking in the countryside.

Will be a plan for a visitor who values visiting areas with some History, values tasting the Portuguese cuisine and local wines, and is also interested in our cultural differences.

I will also consider this visitor prefers to see the sites in a more relaxing way rather than jumping from site to site in a frenetic race … more quality instead of quantity.

In relation to the time length, I will consider two possibilities: 7 days and 14 days.

For both options, I find it fascinating to do the trip from North to South, in which the city of arrival will be Porto and Lisbon the departure city where there are more flight connections with the rest of the world.

7 days: 2-Porto; 1-Guimarães; 1-Fátima/Óbidos; 2-Lisbon; 1-Sintra/Cascais

14 days: 2-Porto; 1-Guimarães; 1-Viana do Castelo; 1-Pinhão (Douro Valley); 2-Coimbra/Fatima/Óbidos; 3-Lisbon; 2-Évora and surroundings; 1-Sintra/Cascais; 1-Setúbal/Tróia/Arrábida

Each of these sites has a remarkable History, different customs, and typical gastronomy and wines to accompany and I will write about these places on this blog.

Join me to tour in Portugal.

David Monteiro