Thursday, 16 February 2017

A tour of Lisbon

I was going to include this as part of my "Lusitano Diaries" but it really deserves a chapter of its own. On Monday 23rd January, I went on a guided tour of Lisbon with Paulo and Agnes of Amazing Discovery Tours. What a fabulous day!

We started off in Belem, where there are many significant monuments and historic buildings (I have included hyperlinks for those wanting more historical information).  The first of note is the Tower of Belem . This is just magnificent!

We then visited the Monument To The Discoveries. It is difficult to comprehend the size of this until you are right up next to it.

Nearby is a world map set in tiles...

Next up was morning tea at Pasteis de Belem - home of the Pastel de Belem, their spin on the Pastel de Nata (or as most Aussies would say, a custard tart). They are quite different to the custard tarts we are accustomed to. The pastry is light, more like a puffed pastry, and the egg custard filling more fluffy. They were delicious - I had mine with cinnamon and sugar. 

They even have a display window so you can see them being baked ;) 

From Belem, we moved to explore the older part of the city. Alfama is on the slope towards St Jorge Castle. The old houses with coloured walls and distinct terracotta coloured roofs make a magnificent picture.

It was then time for lunch, so we moved into the Central district. 

We had a delicious tapas lunch with piri piri chicken, cuts of cured pork, local cheeses (including goat & sheep milk cheeses) with bread, cod cakes and a local white wine (sorry, totally forgotten region!). 

Then it was more exploring of the central district -

Anyone for some vintage port? It was only €1,000 odd...

We finished our meandering through town with a visit to a Ginjinha bar. Yep, you just walk in to be served your shot of cherry liqueur. Bottoms up! 

!!! Felt a bit lightheaded after that at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. 

On that note, I have to say I had a really enjoyable day. There's heaps more to explore, but it has given me a taste of many of the things Lisbon has to offer. A good reason for a return trip ;) 

Thankyou to Amazing Discovery Tours - it was great to have company and to learn more than I would have exploring on my own. One day I will have to come back in the summer time to see the city at night, with all the restaurants and Fado singers bringing the city to life. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Lusitano Diaries - Part 7a


I apologise for the lack of blogging over the past fortnight. It took the better part of a week to shake the horrific jetlag (so much worse flying home, remember flying 'west is best'). I kept waking at 3am and falling asleep, exhausted at random times of the day. I then stupidly knocked my iPad off the bench, wrecking the screen. Add in a 1700km round trip the weekend after I got home and you can see why I haven't been in a writing mood! Back to the reality of my very hectic life! 

Now to test my memory. January 23rd was my second last day in Portugal and I started with an excellent morning lesson with Frederico, on Hostil, the lovely 4yo Lusitano. We worked on getting him soft, supple and travelling in a good rhythm. We then did some lateral work, introducing leg yield in trot. His canter work was fabulous. I was so much straighter, my reaction time so much better that suddenly I just "got it!". As horse people will relate to, it was a ride where I didn't want it to end.

The rest of my day was filled in with a guided day trip to Lisbon with Paulo and Agnes from Amazing Discovery Tours. I will write the next (very pictorial) chapter tonight, once I have the chance to download more photos from my camera.

Up soon : Lisbon, my final ride at Cascais Riding Club on Vingador and lots to reflect on.
PS. Did I mention I am already planning to go back??? ;)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Lusitano Diaries - 6 1/2

I am sorry to not yet have installment 7 done yet, but jetlag is really affecting me this time - who knew travelling East would be so bad? If anyone has any tips for overcoming waking at 4am all the time and then battling to stay awake in the afternoon - let me know! This has never happened to me before.

I am blown away though, by the response to my little iMovie - which has had some 3000 views in a matter of days!

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Lusitano Diaries - Part 6


It is now almost a week since I last posted and I have been in a confused jetlagged fog since arriving home at 2am on Australia Day!

Sunday 22nd is where I recap my journey. I had a day off riding and met up with Sarah for a cuppa before heading up to Sintra for some more fabulous sightseeing. 

As quoted by Wikipedia - Sintra is a resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains, near the capital, Lisbon. A longtime royal sanctuary, its forested terrain is studded with pastel-colored villas and palaces. The Moorish- and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace is distinguished by dramatic twin chimneys and elaborate tilework. The hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace is known for a whimsical design and sweeping views

It is a place you could spend days exploring. I did some (ok, quite a lot of) shopping in the cute little village, before looking through the beautiful National Palace. 

The ceilings in this palace are so ornate - I can't imagine the work that went into such a building! 

The tile walls are also magnificent

The kitchen is huge! 

I then saw a "walking track" up towards Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. "A nice day for a walk" I thought...I should have viewed the sign more carefully (see that hiking picture???) Note I had also bought some cast iron wares that I was carrying with me!! 

A nice seat for a rest?

And oh just got steeper....and steeper

Umm,  was heading in the direction of that castley-looking place, and then saw rockclimbers on their way up the cliff. A little out of my depth! 

But, I made it to the foothills(!) of the beautiful Pena Palace and got a transfer to the top.

My photos don't do it justice, but it has AMAZING views from the top

Once again, beautiful inside (and an even bigger kitchen!)
(my other photos are yet to be downloaded from my non mobile device). 

I then got a ride all the way back down the mountain, saving my legs for another day.

Monday morning, I had a lesson at 8am with Frederico, this time on Hostil again. Hostil & I were on the same page. He was beautifully responsive, did lots of suppling work & baby leg yielding and I could feel my coordination and timing was getting SO much better. Work on the Balimo chair had also loosened me up before my ride and I felt much better through my body. 

Stay tuned, will soon write my next (lengthy) installment on my day tour of Lisbon & my final ride (sob) on Tuesday morning...

NB: I have been awake since 3am this morning after falling asleep on the couch at 9pm last night (!!) My poor body clock is hating the transition back (along with the heat and 2 very busy small children...) PS For my new Portuguese friends - a forecast of 39 degrees today! 😳

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Lusitano Diaries - Part 5

My little home for the week 

I can't believe Saturday has been and gone time here is flying! 

Today some of the horses were off to a training show and Sarah's mare was having a day off, which also meant a "day off" for me (if there is ever such a thing). I decided to visit Centro Equestre da Leziria Grande, home of the highly regarded classical dressage trainer, Luis Valenca.  

It started on an interesting note with a taxi driver with NO idea of where he was going and who charged me 72 Euro (!) for a 32km trip. I had been warned about this...but given the driver spoke no English and I could not negotiate on a price beforehand, I knew it would be expensive! 

I had a riding lesson with Sofia, on a gelding called Madonna (!) who patiently took me through many of the movements. I then had an inhand lesson where Sofia took me through the basics of their system in ground work for young horses. I don't have photos to show, but this short clip demonstrates some of the lungeing and lateral work on the ground I was able to try.  

On hearing of my horror taxi ride, she refused payment for my lessons - another example of the kindness and generosity I've experienced of the Portuguese. She also dropped me at the train station to return to Cascais (a total train fare of 5.50 Euro!) It however wasn't a simple journey. The patient man at the train station gave me the following directions: 

But I worked it out - Train, underground, different train....This has been a test of really stepping out of my comfort zone. In the past I would have freaked out about travelling around alone in a foreign country. Now I just laugh, get on with it and think of it as an adventure! In any case, the train ride from Lisbon to Cascais is quite scenic. As I have mentioned before, it's sometimes just the little mundane things in another country (like very quickly working out public transport) that make it interesting. 

Tomorrow I plan to visit Sintra and hopefully fit in another ride. I also have morning lessons scheduled before my day tour of Lisbon on Monday and before departing (sob!) Tuesday. I can't wait to see my family, hug my kids...but it does say something about this place that I don't feel ready to leave so soon! ❤️