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Portugal Day 7: Exploring Porto

semi-overcast 81 °F

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Some views of the common area in the House of Sandeman, which is a hostel with dorms as well as the suites like we are in. There is a breakfast and a dinner available in this room.
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We had a quick breakfast and walked around on the southern side of the Douro, which is not technically Porto but rather Vila Nova de Gaia. This is where the port wine cellars are located, and also the original larger settlement from Roman times.
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Evaporative cooling. Porto is ready to convert!
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We took the gondola to the top of the Dom Luis I bridge, which we could use to get to the attractions on top of the hill in Porto.
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Catherine and the Douro.
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Ruins of houses as we cross the bridge.
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The outside of the cathedral.
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A fado group was busking outside the cathedral.
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Inside the cathedral. They have daily mass and confession, but when we were there it seemed that people were just coming in and sitting down for a bit, then leaving. You could pay to get into the cloister, but we decided against it.
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Views of the city as we walk around.
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The famous São Bento train station, with depictions of the history of Portugal in tile around the station. It was beautiful and impressive. It is a working train station, and is thus very busy with people seeing the artwork and people getting trains.
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A very nice lunch across from São Bento.
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However, I was less than sure about the restroom...
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Porto is a beautiful city. It’s hard to describe what it feels like, but there’s a distinct feeling created by the architecture and the types of businesses in this area.
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Vestir bem, e barato, só aqui (dress well and cheap, here only.) We couldn’t find any specific business this sign related to, but it was very fitting with the rest of the signs and feel of Porto.
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Walking back towards the bridge to return to Gaia. We had our Sandeman port tour at 5:30 and needed to get back in time.
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Our tour guide wore the costume of the Sandeman Don, a logo that combines the traditional Portuguese student cape (which represents their Ports) with a traditional Spanish hat (which represents their Sherries).
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The tour was very interesting. There are several different sizes of barrels and vats which are used to produce red, white, or tawny ports.
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They also make vintage port, which is aged in bottles. The oldest we saw was from 1904.
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We got to taste a white port and a ruby red port.
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Some “sneaking and plotting” pictures, and some that give a good idea of what the House of Sandeman looks like.
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We went to dinner at an Italian restaurant. Catherine got a pizza diavola, and Daniel got a pizza with eggplant and garlic. It was delicious, but they were too big to finish. We should have only ordered one. The dessert was also very good.
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Some pictures around Gaia as we prepared to leave. It has been a beautiful stay in this city and we hope to come back again someday.

Posted by danielcatherine 09:46 Archived in Portugal Tagged signs cathedral port porto don neighborhoods sandeman Comments (1)

Portugal Day 5: Cloisters and Fado

semi-overcast 85 °F

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We started our day with a breakfast that reminded us greatly of our Portuguese lessons. On each lesson some character would order bottles of water (Aguas minerais), some custard pastries (pasteis de nata) and a latte (um galão). This is what we got at a cafe called “The World Needs Nata.”
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Some views around the cafe, including the buskers who were playing across the street.
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The streets in Coimbra.
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Next we went to the Santa Cruz monastery, where much of the knowledge of the Portuguese explorers had been gathered and collected. It was founded by St. Teotonio/ Theotonius in 1131.
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Inside the church.
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The sacristy of the church. There was a great deal of artwork on the walls, and several very beautiful liturgical artifacts. The church appears to still be in use to some extent, as there are current liturgical books on some of the shelves.
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A side room with some religious art and relics. The “bust reliquary” in the middle holds the skull of St. Teotonio. The other two hold relics related to the Five Martyrs of Morocco, Franciscans who were killed for preaching the Catholic faith.
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The Chapter room where meetings took place, with its own altar.
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Some pictures of the cloister.
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The tile work around the walls.
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Tapestries.
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The relic sanctuary. This room was amazingly beautiful. It is highly symmetrical and perfectly arranged, but each element on the walls contains relics of various saints. It felt like something out of a fantasy novel.
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Some pictures at the sanctuary of the church, including the tombs of the first and second kings of Portugal, Afonso Henriques and his son Sancho.
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Some views of the street after we left. On our way up towards the old cathedral, we stopped at the Fado ao Centro and booked tickets for the show at 7:00 PM. We also stopped at the shop of an artist named Marcia Santos, who does illustrations with ballpoint pen. We purchased two of her drawings in frames to take home.
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Then we arrived at the Old Cathedral (the new one was built in the 17th century.)
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Inside the cathedral. Some tombs of various people, including a Byzantine princess who was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Saint Isabella (who lived in Coimbra at the end of her life).
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This little creature at the foot of the tomb of one of the bishops. Is it a shih tzu?
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The cloister at the cathedral.
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For some reason, the floor of the cloister is covered in “2”s.
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Outside the church.
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A little restaurant across from the cathedral where we had a quick snack: caldo verde, a popular Portuguese soup.
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The fado show was beautiful. Fado de Coimbra is distinct from other fado. The instrumentals were really impressive, as was the singing. After the show we got to drink some port wine and talk with the musicians. We bought a CD which they signed.
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After this we went towards the river for dinner and a short walk. It was beautiful at sunset.
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Gelato! Daniel got Azorean pineapple and mint, Catherine got Madeira banana.
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And then, another fado show! One of the musicians from the first one played at this one as well. However, it was different: this show was Fado de Lisboa, which has a female singer and a different kind of sound. We bought this CD as well. It was an amazing show and we really enjoyed learning about the different varieties of the music.

Posted by danielcatherine 03:48 Archived in Portugal Tagged sunset river cloisters cathedral music port dinner wine relics gelato fado pastel_de_nata galão Comments (2)

Ireland Day 14: Cork, Youghal, Cashel

overcast 64 °F

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The view from the kitchen of the house where we stayed. A beautiful north Co. Cork landscape.
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We drove through Bweeng again on our way to Cork. This is the pub.
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St. Peter and Paul's Church, Cork. This was an absolutely beautiful church. We went to a Traditional Latin Mass here. It was a low mass, and not very long, but it was beautiful and the building was so incredible. We also got an excellent parking space right in front of the church, and went to lunch right nearby. Cork City is a little bit crowded and hard to navigate, but it was pretty and we were glad to see it during our trip.
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The outside of the church.
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After leaving Cork we drove to the town of Youghal. Daniel's parents went there and highly recommended it to us. We went to the museum and drove around the town a little.
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So is the group called Batty and they're playing tonight? Or is it called Batty Tonight?
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More pictures of Youghal. It was once one of the most important harbors in Ireland. It reminded us a lot of New England, mostly because it had an intriguingly similar history involving puritans, witch trials, etc.
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More of Youghal.
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Some sights along the road to the Rock of Cashel.
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We arrived at the Rock of Cashel just before it closed. The staff seemed eager to lock the doors, so we were lucky to get in. We went to the museum first.
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Cashel was both an ecclesiastical and political site. It was the capital used by Brian Boru, and before him, by the Eoghanacht rulers. It was also the site of a cathedral (to is day the diocese is called The Diocese of Cashel and Emly, even though the cathedral is in Thurles.) There is thus a great variety of buildings and artifacts here.
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The saddest thing about these ruins is that they don't have to be ruins. If history had gone differently, this could still be a thriving cathedral, with masses being said and people traveling to see the historic church. It lasted for centuries being used that way, and churches just as old are still in use in other countries. These were part of a patrimony that was sadly stolen from the people.
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More pictures from the Rock.
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And some more. It's a beautiful place.
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Some pictures of us at the Rock of Cashel.
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It was extremely windy there that day. It was very difficult to walk around without being blown off-course, and it made Daniel's allergies really bad. Still, it was a nice day to see the ruins with no rain.
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This monument is visible for miles around. It is only when you walk behind it that you realize...
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...that it used to be a cross! It would have been incredibly huge as a cross. Unfortunately, without a guide we don't know if it was wind or human action that blew it down.
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In the gift shop, Catherine tried on this cloak. She said she wishes that cloaks were a more socially acceptable thing to wear. Unfortunately, the €500 price tag prevented her from doing her part to bring back the cloak. (Also, she wondered if daggers were a necessary accessory with cloaks.)

We went to dinner at a pub called Brian Boru's, where people were watching a darts competition, and the Italian waiter kept promising the owner that he would bring in Italians, then delivering on his promise (he must have brought in at least four Italians while we were eating there.) Only after we finished eating did we find out there was another side, which was a restaurant with live music. It was a nice dinner. We then set off on our drive to our next AirBnB, which was near Athlone and especially close to the ruins at Clonmacnoise, which we were very excited to see.
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Some pictures of the sunset along our way. We arrived at our AirBnB on the Pilgrims' Road, and met our hosts who also had large dogs, had a farm, and the husband was named Joseph. We had a nice conversation with them, then went to our room and went to sleep.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:53 Archived in Ireland Tagged history ruins church museum cathedral dogs farm cross latin wind athlone joseph cork mass cashel clonmacnoise rock_of_cashel bweeng dromohane youghal Comments (0)

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