Visit Portugal with the lovely Heloise

The lovely Heloise was my first student and she has stayed with us many times over the last years. We look forward to hear stays every year and are very happy that her equally lovely sister, Emeline, has also started staying with us. Heloise wrote this blog post about their holiday in Portugal in 2014. This summer I went to Portugal with my family. We took the plane to Lisbon where we stayed 3 days. There, we climbed on top of a tower, and we could admire whole Lisbon. It was really nice. This tower was built by a Gustav Eiffel student. It looks like the glass lift in the film Charley and the chocolate factory. We walked along the typical Portuguese floors « calçadões », which are handmade cobblestone (in the beginning convicts/galley slaves made it !) What is beautiful in the streets is that they have a lot of colored garlands. It is funny because in Lisbon, you have a copy of the red San Francisco bridge and a Statue of Christ such as in Brazil. We also visited a peaceful monastery in the Manuelin style. Monks were very lucky to live in such a beautiful place : whole columns are precisely sculpted and the white stone contrasts with the green grass in the heart of the Jeronimo’s monastery. Then, we visited the Belem Tower, and we tasted the famous « pasteis de belem » which are so excellent in the biggest bakery I’ve ever seen ! The day after, we entered in a reconstitution of Don Fernando II’s fregate. Then, we were in a big aquarium. There we saw sea otters and it was very nice because there was a glass cave with sofas and if look above your head we can see fishes and turtles. Very early in the morning, we took the plane to Madeira island. We stayed there for one week. Unfortunately, the weather was not good, which was a pity. We came to a fish, fruit and vegetable market where we tasted passion fruits. I really enjoy all the colors and smells in the market. Madeira has the sea and mountains, that makes its so unique. We first walked on the Santo Lorenço cliffs, but I think I preferred the green mountains with all the big trees, agapanthes and hydrangeas. We walked a lot along « levadas », irrigation canals and my sister liked the big channels that cross the mountain. When you stay in the bottom part of the island, there is fog and sometimes rain, but if you climb up to the top of the mountain, you are blessed by the sun ! Madeira is a big farming island and we can see that every piece of land is used for farming, even if it is steep. I think that the most beautiful and peaceful city is « jardim do mar » because it is a pedestrian city and there are small streets in which the floor is done in little black and white stones. Finally, we went back to Lisbon where we rented a car to go to the south of Portugal for one more week. We began with Faro and Sagres. We visited a lot of churches with blue and white tiles « azoulejos ». It is so nice ! We also ate delicious fish and some sweet things such as « arroz doçe ». Afterwards, we moved to Evora, a beautiful place where we visited a wonderful old university made with azulejos which represented the subject taught in each classroom. We finished our trip in Sintra, the town that my mother and I preferred. Indeed, it looks like a fairy tale city because of the high number of palaces inside. Some were built during the XVIst century, others during the XIXth century. There were also a lot of trees and German style gardens which were beautiful. We visited one castle in which there were many underground/ subterranean walkways in the garden, it was very funny ! We also visited a Franciscan Babbage all made with cork and is was amazing to see the little cells with little doors. Even my little sister had to bend down to get in. We finally left Portugal to go back to Toulouse. If I can return to Portugal, I think that I would go to Sintra, because there is so much to see!