30 March - 13 April 2002
Munich -> Faro
02.04: Queluz, Sintra, Cabo da
Boca, Cascais, Guincho
03.04: Lisboa -> Leiria,
04.04: Batalha, Alcobaca and
05.04: Coimbra, Conimbriga
06.04: Leiria -> Evora,
07.04: Evora, Elvas, Estremoz
08.04: Evora -> Lagos
09.04: Lagos, Luz, Sagres, Cabo
de Sao Vicente, Praia da Rocha
10.04: Lagos beaches, Ponta da
11.04: Lagos -> Faro, Tavira,
12.04: Faro, Parque Natural de
This is a report of our trip to Portugal
which we did between March 30th and April 13th, 2002. We flew from
to Faro and then back to Munich. In Portugal we rented a small car,
which we travelled around South and Central Portugal, totalling 2300 Km
in two weeks. We saw a lot of places, maybe a bit too many. Probably we
should have focused on just one region.
I did the trip with a high end camera
and a subnotebook to keep my journal and sending / receiving emails.
This was a budget trip with some
comfort. We stayed in double rooms with bath in "Pensaos" and
spending 30-35 Euros/night. It is possible to have a lunch/dinner for
people in a Portuguese resturant for less than 20 Euro, in a Chinese
in Portugal for less than 15 Euros. Fuel for the car was 87
entry tickets to most palaces, monasteries and other major tourist
are 3 Euro. The car, a Fiat Punto, was 17 Euro/day, because we booked
Germany (local price was 27 Euro/day).
TMN and Optimus offer both prepaid
cards for 25 Euro (15 Euro initially available for calls; 18
for calls with the TMN card). Unfortunately TMN does not offer an
access (only WAP).
Lisboa: Agora Internet Cafe behind
the Santos train station- cheap and fast, 0.75 Euro for half an hour
Lagos: Internet access in the Youth
Hostel is 1.50 Euro for half an hour.
We couldn't find internet cafes
in Evora and Faro.
Was fine (mostly sunny) for the first
days, bad (cold, windy, rainy) for about a week, fine again in the last
days we spent in the Algarve.
Munich -> Faro
We arrive on time at Faro Airport
and after getting the luggage we head to the National car rental.
we booked a budget car, it's still a nice car - a Fiat Punto with just
14000 Km. Comfortable and modern, the only problem is that the view to
the back is a bit obstructed. At about 7:30pm we leave the airport. The
idea is to drive to Lisboa and skip the Algarve, which should be
by tourists around Easter. We'll visit the Algarve on the last days of
our stay in Portugal.
Pedro (a Portuguese friend) told
me that the trip from Faro to Lisboa takes about three hours and that
drivers are wild. This is something that also the Lonely Planet has
So I'm a bit nervous, driving with an unfamiliar car, in an unknown
and with aggressive drivers. But it turns out that the road from Faro
Lisboa (partly motorway and partly road) is very well marked and the
are virtually empty. The motorway tolls total 11.70 Euro.
We arrive at Lisboa at about 11pm
and reach Comercio Place after a little mistake. We still don't have a
room. Most places are full and it takes us over one hour to find a
We sleep at 1am.
Beautiful sunny day.
We change hotel
and move to the Residencial Nova Avenida, where we get a much better
Around noon we leave the hotel and start our sightseeing walk. I'm
the subnotebook with me, as I don't want to leave it in the hotel and I
kind of have the feeling that I might run out of memory cards. The
is great - a sunny day with no clouds in the sky - and Lisboa is a
town. Until about 4pm we explore the Baixa area, then walk back to the
Residencial and fetch the car and drive to Belem.
It takes a while to find a parking place, as the whole of Lisboa seems
to be in Belem on this Easter Sunday afternoon. To my surprise the
drivers are relaxed, friendly and seem to follow the rules. Getting
A to B in Lisboa is painless, almost relaxing. Maybe it's because the
is half empty and the locals want to relax during the Easter holiday.
Lisboa is a beautiful town with
an impressive concentration of monuments, historic sites and
buildings. It seems to be a combination of Paris and Barcelona, only
better - with the flair of Paris, but without its pollution and chaos
with a waterfront like the one in Barcelona. There is a harbour, but
town is surprisingly clean.
We leave the Residencial
at noon and have a lunch at a sandwich restaurant in a road parallel to
Very good sandwich by the way. Then we explore Alfama with the Castelo
de Sao Jorge and later in the afternoon Bairro Alto & Chiado.
weather improves during the afternoon and with the sun popping out the
quality of the photos improves.
Again it's easy to drive around
Sintra, Cabo da Boca, Cascais, Guincho and back to Lisboa
Morning: beatiful sunny day. The
turns bad over the afternoon,
with a thick carpet of clouds covering the sun. It even rains a bit and
a while to convince Shirley to wake up. The plan today is to visit
the attractions out of Lisboa: Palacio de Queluz, then Sintra with its
Palacio Nacional and Palacio de Pena and Cascais. Lot of shooting
for today. We stop at:
- Palacio de Queluz (which however
Nacional de Sintra: they won't allow photography, not even without
flash, in spite of charging 3 Euro for the entry
Nacional da Pena: entry ticket is 5 Euro, but photography is not
not even without flash. The 3 Euro ticket will only allow you to walk
the park, not into the palacio. There is a bus which brings you to the
palacio from the gate - 1.50 Euro for the (very) short trip. This place
is a tourist trap.
(five star hotel)
Gardens: free entry into the gardens, but the palace is closed
da Roca: very windy place
- Cascais and Guincho:
Cascais seems to be a modern beach village with nothing particular.
In the evening it gets rainy & cold &
windy. For dinner we go again to the good Chinese restaurant in the
area. Shirley talks a lot in Chinese with the Chinese owner waitress.
dinner we spend half an hour in the Agora Internet Cafe behind the
Lisboa -> Leiria, Tomar,
The day starts sunny then it rains,
the sun shines again and so on.
We move to Leiria, about 140 Km north
Lisboa, into the Residencial Leiriense. The room is quite nice,
a bit small, and has a TV. We skip breakfast and lunch and
immediately after leaving our bags in the residencial continue our trip
to Tomar, where we visit the impressive Convento
da Ordem de Cristo. Photography is allowed (but without flash and
On the way back we stop in Fatima
at the Santuario. While walking to the Basilica I meet two young ladies
with long skirts and very short hair singing halleluja.
Tomorrow we'll visit Alcobaca, Batalha
Alcobaca and Obidos
Clouded day for the whole day but
no rain. Cool, but not windy.
is only 11 km from Leiria. The road between Alcobaca and Obidos
is (until Caldas do Rainha) a series of villages with a 50 km/h speed
Really a pain to drive. Batalha and Alcobaca
are very impressive. Tomorrow we'll move to Coimbra.
After tomorrow we don't know yet - maybe Coimbra again or Aveiro, or
Clouded and cool day with rain; a
little sunshine in the afternoon.
Coimbra is nice, but not too nice.
We visit a couple of churches and the university. Concerning the
it's possible to see most things without paying the ticket. Shirley
buys a Portuguese ceramic
(a tea pot) for our landlady... it's made in China (!).
is so-so. It's supposed to be the biggest Roman site in Portugal, but
really nothing special.
On the way back we stop at a supermarket
in Leiria. They have many of the same products which are also available
in German supermarkets. The quality of the supermarket is quite high -
this supermarket could easily be located in Munich. Overall the
seem to enjoy a reasonably high living standard (but most cars are
- Leiria is a modern and clean town with decent housing areas.
Tomorrow we'll leave the North and
head south to Evora, as I'm tired of bad and cold weather. I've already
frozen enough on this holiday.
Leiria -> Evora,
The day is clouded.
We leave Leiria
around 1pm for Evora. We drive along the A1 motorway until Santarem,
change on the N114 through Coruche until Montemor-o-Novo, then fetch
motorway until Evora. It rains more or less like hell for the whole
of the trip. Apparently right now is the rainy season in Portugal.
before arriving in Evora we make a small detour to visit the dolmen and
cromlech of Almendres.
interesting. In the meantime it stops raining.
In Evora we take a room in the Pensao
Giraldo. The room is quite big, has two double beds, an electric
a TV and a big bathroom with bathtub/shower. Evora
is interesting and nice, but apparently a few hours are enough to visit
everything. Not sure what we will do tomorrow. In the meantime our tour
of Chinese restaurants in Portugal continues, as Shirley again has
a Chinese restaurant. And the same ritual starts again. All Chinese
surround Shirley and talk in Chinese to her 'ah... a Chinese girl ...
are you from? ... Malaysia... ah ... very interesting...' and so on.
an hour of chit-chat.
Cold and very windy day; it rains
the whole day. No fun to travel in Portugal under such conditions.
and 81% humidity in our room when we wake up in the morning.
We visit the Capella
dos Ossos in Evora and the towns of Elvas and Estremoz. Elvas
is nothing special, but Estremoz is nice - that is, Estremoz could be
if the sun was shining. It is raining heavily, the wind is strong and
situation does not improve until we leave one hour later. It has been
and very windy for days now and I'm starting to wonder if the weather
always so windy and humid in Portugal.
Evora -> Lagos
Cold and cloudy day; it rains more
or less the whole day; heavy showers on the road between Evora and
in the afternoon.
We leave Evora around 1:30pm and
drive along the IP2 and IC1 (along Beja and Ourique) to Lagos arriving
a bit after 5pm. The road is quite good even if it's not a motorway;
possible to drive at a reasonable speed, except for the last part
Albufeira and Lagos, where there is a traffic jam. There is an car
at one point and interestingly many Portuguese cars stop along the road
and the drivers get out to have a closer look. In Germany people would
simply drive slower and look, but here they stop altogether.
The weather improves when we reach
the Algarve, and the sun shines a bit. Lagos
look nice, but it's quite touristy. We stay at the Residential Sol a
The nearby Youth Hostel has no more double rooms. Dinner at the Dynasty
Luz, Sagres, Cabo de Sao Vicente, Praia da Rocha
Beautiful sunny day with just a few
clouds in the sky; later in the afternoon more clouds.
I sleep until noon as I'm sick (finally
managed to catch a cold). We leave the Residential a bit after 1pm and
head to the beaches west of Lagos after a short lunch. We don't reach
western beach of Lagos as the road is blocked, and make it instead to
of Luz, which is kind of nice, but not too special as there are no
Then we drive to Sagres and stop
at its fortress. The entry to the fortress is 3 Euro - way overpriced
that there isn't much to see inside. The coast here
is stunning, with very high, steep cliffs falling straight into the
After we head to the Cabo
Sao Vicente. Again very stunning coast (and interesting local
by the way).
We then drive to the Praia
da Rocha near Portimao. Very nice beach with its rock formations,
there are just too many hotels and appartment complexes in the area.
be very crowded here in summer.
beaches, Ponta da Pietade
Bright sunny day, with only some
clouds far away to the north; so far it looks like the Algarve is
immune from bad weather.
Another day in Lagos. We visit the
Meia: flat, very long beach (4km), no rocks.
da Pietade: cape with caves, stunning rock formations
do Camilo: small secluded beach among the cliffs. Connected to
even smaller beach by a tunnel across the rock.
de Dona Ana: somehow bigger beach protected by the cliffs.
The room in the Residencial Sol
a Sol is very humid (88% and higher for the past days).
Lagos -> Faro,
Bright sunny day with a few clouds
in the sky; very windy, fresh and cool air, but not too cold. No rain.
We leave Lagos around 1pm and drive
to Faro where we arrive a bit after 2pm. We move into the Pensao Oceano
(nice, bright double with bath; no heating). After we drive to Tavira
Natural de Ria Formosa
Clouded and windy day, no rain.
We drive to the well hidden Parque
Natural de Ria Formosa near Olhao. It takes half an hour to find the
as nowhere there is the street sign to Quinta de Marim. There is a
street sign for the Parque at one junction, but it's very easy to
it. The park is not too interesting - the wildlife and the scenery
Cacela Velha was much more exciting. In Portugal the car drivers stop
at the zebra stripes to allow pedestrians to cross the street. In Italy
and other countries this is not the case.
Faro -> Munich
Copyright (c) 2003 Alfred Molon