Archive for the ‘Portugal’ Category

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Visit to Pont du Gard August 2019

Something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Anyone with even the slightest interest in history or engineering cannot fail to be impressed by this structure. Built in 1st century AD as part of a 50km aqueduct to bring a better water supply to the city of Nîmes, it is still almost complete but no longer functional. That lasted only about 600 years!

There are probably a million pictures out there. Here a just a few of mine. Down below, the river is a popular canoeing and kayaking centre, as well as a place just to jump in the water on a hot day. The site is accessed through a visitor centre which houses a museum and history of the construction of the waterway system. There is a lot of walking to do within the site and some parts are definitely not accessible to those less mobile.

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The low structure in the foreground is an early 18th century road bridge, whose arches exactly match the pattern of the much older aqueduct. It is across this that visitors walk. Guided tours of the Roman building, including the interior, are available at certain times.

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This is the river Gardon.

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The slots are those used by the engineers cranes when hoisting the blocks up the scaffold.

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This rather grand residence sits nearby.

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The plaque on the later bridge.

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The protruding blocks, clearly seen in this picture, were to support the scaffolding that rose with the structure.

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Nearby is a short tunnel, dug to bring water onto the top of the aqueduct. Most of the 50km of the water route was in fact at ground level or beneath it.

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The remains of one of the channels down from the hills.

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There is plenty of history and information easily found. All of this was achieved without modern machinery, computer aided design or committees. Wikipedia article here.

Most of the 1.5 million annual visitors go by car, so there is a vast car park nearby. You can get there by public bus from Nîmes, Avignon and Uzès, the buses stop about 5 minutes walk from the visitor centre. At the time of my visit, the bus fare for any journey was €3,10 there and back. Regional bus website for times is https://www.laregion.fr/transports-gard-regulier the stop is called Vers Rond Point du Gard.

Get there early! Estimate 2 – 3 hours on site. It is a pleasant area to walk around, although on the day of my visit it was quite windy with a lot of dust in the air.

Visit to Pont du Gard August 2019

Tagged: , , on August 16, 2019 by cubsur51

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Soulac sur mer food fair 27 July 2019

There was a nice little food fair last night in the square outside the historic church. Numerous stalls selling various ethnic and traditional food, beer, wine and champagne also. I have to say that the biggest queue was at the burger stand but they did look very nice. I had a dish of araignée de porc, a variant on the asian recipe at https://www.750g.com/recettes_araignee_de_porc.htm

It had finally stopped raining mid afternoon, this first picture was taken at about 1900hrs.

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Shortly before sunset, the beach was deserted. Many people always come to watch the sun go down. Perhaps that’s a relic of ancient times when prayers would be offered to make sure it came back the following day.

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About 15 minutes before sunset but then the clouds got in the way.

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Soulac sur mer food fair 27 July 2019

Tagged: , , , on July 28, 2019 by cubsur51

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Campolide and the Aqueduct July 2019

In Portugal on July 20, 2019 by cubsur51 Tagged: , ,

A major monument in Lisbon, often overlooked, is the aqueduct Águas Livres (free waters. This crosses the Alcantâra valley at Campolide, high above the modern roads and railways on arches totalling 941 metres in length. First used in 1748, as part of a 58km system of canals and aqueducts, it carried the city’s main water supply until the 1960’s. This and related structures can be visited as part of the city’s water museum.



Campolide is a suburb of Lisbon a few km out to the north west. You get a good view of aircraft coming into land at Lisbon’s airport!

The busy railway station and adjacent maintenance yard are a train buff’s pleasure. It is difficult to get a view from high up, A high wall surrounds much of the area.

I am not sure what this building is, but I think it is part of the Lisbon University campus.


This is the top of the Campolide underground car park, where the recently restored vintage tram route 24 stops, outside the red kiosk thing. This is a long way from the railway station and main bus station.

Finally a quick look across the river to the Cristo Rei statue in Alamada.

And the much smartened up Praça do Cómercio and Terreiro do Paco waterfront area of Lisbon.

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Visit to Azenhas do Mar, July 2019

In Portugal on July 20, 2019 by cubsur51 Tagged: , ,

Azenhas do Mar is a picturesque seaside village about nine miles (14km) from Sintra. If you don’t have a car it is an easy bus ride from the railway station at Portela do Sintra (the stop before Sintra) on Scotturb bus route 441. This runs every day at irregular intervals, but once or twice every hour

There isn’t much of a beach at Azenhas do Mar. It is at the bottom of a 150 foot (50 metre) cliff accessible by a steep and narrow path. At the bottom you are greeted by this sign!
I would imagine it’s a joke. The only way to get a mobile home there would be to lower it by crane.

The beach from above. As you can see, the yellow caution flag was flying. It was very windy and the sea quite rough. Not quite mid-July weather.


A restaurant clings to the side of the cliff above a kind of man made pool behind sea wall.

There are some fairly interesting, even eccentric buildings in the village. This one is an hotel.

I have no idea what this one is or was.

This is the old laundry house. Once common all over Portugal they are now almost all now out of use. Piped water and washing machines saw to that.

The village clings to the sides of a steep valley and cliff.

The streets are tiny and closed to visitors cars. If you go there, be ready for some walking!

There is plenty of evidence of man’s attempts to keep the cliff from falling down.


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Visit to Praia das Maças, Sintra, July 2019

In Portugal on July 20, 2019 by cubsur51 Tagged: , ,

Praia das Maças, about 11km (7 miles) from the centre of Sintra. A popular destination on a sunny day, when I visited (by the Sintra tram) it was very windy and decidedly cold. Surfers were out in force. The coastline is quite rocky with tall cliffs and only small areas of sand. About 20km north is the popular resort of Ericeira.








The sea is obviously taking its toll. These were perhaps coastal watch towers. The ramp or ladder was just not quite accessible for a closer look.





In the far background is Cabo da Roca, the much visited most westerly point of mainland Europe.

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Visit to Sintra tram July 2019

In Portugal,Trams on July 20, 2019 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

I have tried before and failed but finally managed to get a trip on the Sintra tram. It’s a restored vintage tram line from Sintra to a place called Praia das Maças. The distance is about 11.5km (7 miles) and the trip takes about 45 minutes. It doesn’t exactly rush.

Originally opened in 1904, it is a 1000mm (1 Metre) gauge electric tramway that once served a genuine transport need until 1953 when buses took over the normal day-to-day service. The tram then operated only in summer. In 1955 the short and very steep section beyond Praia da Maças to Azenhas do Mar was closed and in 1958 the stretch from the Sintra railway station to the present terminus followed suit. The whole line was closed in 1975, allegedly because of faulty equipment. (Apparently in reality the bus company put pressure on the local council to have it stopped.)

However from 1980 the line was progressively re-opened as a tourist attraction. But series of minor accidents and derailments resulted in a further stoppage in 1994.

Ownership passed to the town council but a further series of mishaps, including a tree falling across the overhead power lines, the theft of 1000 metres of copper cable and more necessary repairs made the line barely functional until 2012.

The starting point at Sintra is a little distance, a 7 or 8 minutes walk, from the railway station. Come out of the station, turn right and walk past the hordes of tour touts, tourists, buses and walk along the road. Keep going through a short street of shops and shortly you will see a fountain at an intersection. The tram starts from there. On weekdays tickets must be purchased before boarding, at the Vila Vida shop (a white building with flags) next door. At weekends tickets are sold on board.

Adult fare is €3, senior and children €2.

The tram I travelled on seats 24 with a few more standing. It is a 1945 vintage vehicle and is NOT accessible to wheelchairs etc. There are steps up. Other trams including an open top vehicle are sometimes used. Older pictures show a two car ‘train’ but there is no evidence these are now used.

To my disappointment the service has been reduced to only three trips each day, even though it is the summer holidays. This may be a prelude to it being discontinued completely, so get there while you can.

The first ten minutes of the journey are steeply downhill, with much screeching of brakes as the driver holds the car back. Curves are tight, flanges squeal. Parts of the ride are bumpy over the jointed track. For most of the way the track runs alongside the roads, although it does cut through backyards once or twice. There are numerous crossings over public roads. The busier are protected from both sides by modern traffic signals.

After the tram ride I walked the 3km to the  picturesque village of Azenhas do Mar (next post) and too a bus back to Sintra.

A few pictures :

The tram at the Praia da Maças terminus.

The tram creeping through the trees on its run from the dêpot to Sintra terminus.


Tramcar interior.

Arrival at Praia Maças. Despite being mid July it was actually cold and windy – look at the sky! The driver’s assistant is swinging the trolley pole around for the return journey.
Almost ready to go.
The line passes through some pleasant wooded countryside.


With a glimpse of distant palaces on the hills.

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Albufeira Praia do Peneco

In Albufeira on July 16, 2019 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Pictures taken just after 1000am Tuesday 16th July. Only 24ºC, rising to 29 or 30 later.