October 15, 2014

Barcelos Rooster

The Barcelos Rooster (Galo de Barcelos) is a common emblem of Portugal often seen in souvenir shops. Consideredan item of good luck, the rooster comes from a story of a roasted rooster that crowed to prove a condemned man's innocence.

Barcelos Rooster, Portugal

The garish, brightly-colored Barcelos Rooster is often sold as a ceramic ornament but there are plastic versions too.

The standard Galo de Barcelos may be as aesthetically pleasing as a Staffordshire Toby Jug, but it serves the same purpose - as a gimmick for a popular, local industry.

Barcelos, near Braga, is famous for its eartherware and pottery, and the national symbol of good fortune and honesty is produced en masse in the town.

Barcelos Rooster, Portugal

The Galo de Barcelos is usually black but now comes in a variety of colors with a red plumage and a bright yellow or orange beak.

So if you are looking for an iconic memento or keepsake of Portugal, look no further than a Barcelos Rooster for your mantelpiece.



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September 14, 2014

Hotel Mercure Porto Centro

The Hotel Mercure Porto Centro is a four star hotel located in Praça da Batalha in the old centre of Porto.

Hotel Mercure Porto Centro


Close to Porto's Cathedral, Sao Bento Station, the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso and the Rede Expressos Bus Station, the Hotel Mercure Porto Centro offers modern amenities in a vibrant urban locale.

The breakfasts are recommended, the Wifi excellent and the rooms spacious. We particularly liked the port-hole style windows with excellent views over the city.

Parking is available along with a restaurant and stylish bar.

Hotel Mercure Porto Centro


Hotel Mercure Porto Centro
Praça da Batalha, 116, Se
4049-028 Porto

September 9, 2014

Igreja dos Congregados

The Igreja dos Congregados (Igreja de Santo Antonio dos Congregados) stands just to the north of Sao Bento Station in Praça de Almeida Garrett in the old city area of Porto.

Igreja dos Congregados, Porto, Portugal


Igreja dos Congregados was built in 1703 on the site of a previous chapel. Restoration work on the church was done in the 19th century and the classic blue and white azulejos tiles by Jorge Colaço were added in the 20th century and depict scenes from the life of Saint Anthony.

Igreja dos Congregados, Porto, Portugal


Close to the church is an equestrian statue of Dom Pedro IV.

Igreja dos Congregados
Rua Sa da Bandeira, 11
Porto 4000-433
Portugal
Tel: 022 200 2948

September 5, 2014

Hotel Avenida Viseu

The Hotel Avenida in Viseu is a delight for fans of old-style elegance. Centrally-located just off the main Rossio square adjacent to the Camera Municipal, the Hotel Avenida has charming rooms and some lovely lounge spaces to relax and read.

Hotel Avenida Viseu Portugal


The harlequin-tiled bathrooms are a lovely touch for a hotel which also incorporates WiFi connection in all its rooms and an adequate continental breakfast.

Hotel Avenida Viseu


The Hotel Avenida is close to many of Viseu's attractions including the Museu Almeida Moreira, the Parque Aquilino Ribeiro and the bus station, with buses to Guarda and Porto.

Hotel Avenida Viseu

There's a supermarket almost next door and some attractive bars on Rua Miguel Bombarda.

Hotel Avenida
Av. Alberto Sampaio, Nº 1, 3510-030
Viseu

Hotel Avenida Viseu, Portugal

September 4, 2014

Castelo do Queijo

The Castelo do Queijo (Cheese Castle) is a noted landmark in Foz do Douro, an upmarket suburb on the Atlantic Ocean, west of Porto.

Castelo do Queijo, Foz do Douro, Porto

The fortress is so-called as the rocks it was built on supposedly resemble cheese. The castle was designed by Miguel l'Ecole and completed in 1661.

Inside is a museum (admission charge) dedicated to Portugal's commandos.

Castelo do Queijo Museum, Porto

A number of buses run out to the roundabout infront of the castle, Praça Gonçalves Zarco, including numbers #500 and #502.

Castelo do Queijo, Foz do Douro

August 31, 2014

Casa da Se Guarda

Guesthouse da Se is a budget guesthouse popular with young Portuguese travelers and foreign backpackers right on the main square in Guarda on the bus route from Madrid via Salamanca to Porto.

Casa da Se Guarda


Formally a residencial, the guesthouse is a "project" by a young Portuguese artist, who is restoring the property to its former glory.

Rooms are compact with antique furnishings and similarly antique showers and toilets. Toilet paper needs to be placed in a plastic bag, for example, not down the loo to spare the drains.

Located next door to a trendy bar, Casa da Se has some lovely azulejos decorating its staircases and at only 10 euros a night per person per night a snip.

The check-in time of 6pm may be a little inconvenient, but if you are looking for cheap lodging in Guarda, look no further than the Casa da Se which has a common lounge, a washing machine and functional WiFi.

Guesthouse da Se
Rua Augusto Gil, 17
Guarda, 6300-516
Portugal

August 26, 2014

Hotel Santos Guarda

A delightful, small, friendly hotel, the Hotel Santos is a great place to stay in Guarda. The unique old building incorporates sections of the much older town wall and another, older, building.

Hotel Santos Guarda, Portugal


The interior has been completely remodeled - one half is on one side of the old town wall, and the other half on the other side, leading to some interesting stair-case configurations. It also means that the lift doesn't go to each landing, so do specify in your reservation request if you are unable to manage stairs.

Hotel Santos Guarda Portugal


Rooms and furnishings are all pristine white, new and clean. There are double windows, needed to block the sound of cars on cobblestones at the front, and family life in the lane at the back of the hotel.

Hotel Santos Guarda Portugal


Breakfast is a decent spread of fruit, yoghurt, juice, ham, local cheese, rolls, tea and coffee. If you are celiac though, bring your own gluten-free bread or crackers.
It's fascinating to be inside this building and to see how the renovation has incorporated the old town wall. The location is perfect. Two very minor detractions: the wifi did not work in my room but I could sit downstairs to use it, and the shower might well be the smallest I've ever used.

Hotel Santos Guarda Portugal


Overall the Hotel Santos is highly recommended! Guarda itself, or at least the old town, is very small and you can wander around in an hour or so.

There are lovely views over the countryside from strategic locations. The old Jewish quarter has narrow lanes that go back hundreds of years; many houses in the old town are in complete disrepair and lend a sad air to the place, in contrast to the livelier new town outside the old walls.

Guarda

Within the old town an excellent restaurant with helpful waitresses is the Restaurante A Floresta. The restaurant has a friendly, homely atmosphere and is obviously popular with locals as well as tourists. The food was excellent and plentiful; the waitresses were friendly and helpful - as a coeliac they helped me select dishes I was able to eat, and there were also several desserts available to choose from.

Guarda


Hotel Santos
Rua Tenente Valadim
nº 14, 6300-76
Guarda

Nicola Reiss