Travels through Portugal:
"In the lap of luxury"
Pousada do Porto - Freixo Palace Hotel
Photographs by David S. Rose
Photographs by David S. Rose
Written by Marilee F. Rose
Written by Marilee F. Rose
When we first arrived at the pousada in Queluz, Pousada da Dona Maria I, I was struck with the realization that we were living in another world. The pousada, the old army barracks, is located across from the palace and the entire area is as if you were stepping back in time. We have been to Versailles in Paris, and found this palace very similar. But this palace is far more beautiful and the size
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The pousada in Estremoz sits high on a hill overlooking the city. This Pousada do Rainha Santa Isabel, is inside a walled section of the city and is one of the most elegant pousadas we’ve ever visited. It is filled with real antiques and the azulejos tiles that line the stairways are well maintained. Each visit to this pousada makes me want to learn more of the
Pousada do Rainha Santa Isabel
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What can I say…elegance, and a step back in time. When we arrived I was fascinated by the architecture of the building and the grounds. The more we explored the more intriguing it all became. Again the beautiful azulejos tiles are used to enhance the rooms and the porch. The furnishings are perfectly matched and you really feel that you’re living in another era. It has been said that Agatha Christie stayed here and it was believed she was a spy. A lot of spies met and stayed at Busaco. I would have
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Obidos was one of the first pousadas we ever stayed in and we’ve been back three times since. The first time we stayed in Obidois, at Pousada do Castelo, we had a room that looked over towards the castle towers. The next year we stayed there we opted for a room in the single tower and we loved it. The stairway is very steep and it has a rope to help you pull yourself up...don’t drink too much because the bathroom is on the first floor and the bedroom up those very steep stairs.
I absolutely love the Alentejo region of Portugal and Palmela is on the way to that area. The pousada in Palmela, (Pousada de Palmela), sits high on a hill looking over the rolling hills and the town of Palmela. This is another of the pousadas that we have been to more than once. Once you get over the drive up there the view takes over and the drive didn’t seem that bad. Now we just go whipping up the road like old pros in our excitement of staying here again. It is beautiful and has been like a constant for us. We know we will get a great room with beautiful views, good food and Hugo, who is one of the most fantastic pousada employees and has made our stay here wonderful. One time we were lost and we knew that
Coimbra was once the capital of Portugal for over 100 years and has one of the most famous universities in Europe. When we were in Coimbra we stayed at the Quinta das La’grimas. This is a manor house set back from the road amongst beautiful gardens and a very interesting history. The other reason for staying there was that it has a Michelin star restaurant. Coimbra has many things that interested us, first the tomb of King Afonso I along with his son Sancho I is in the Igreja de Santa Cruz, the tomb of Queen Isabel is at the Convento Santa Clara-a Nova and the wonderful Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro. This museum had just opened after having been closed for the past 6 years. Absolutely fantastic and one of the best
Vila Vicosa is a beautiful small town that is lined with shady trees and outside café’s. I felt very comfortable walking around the town and looking at all the shops and museums. The Pousada de Dom Joao IV is lovely and very modern in certain sections of the pousada. Other sections have very beautiful ceilings and partially reconstructed rooms. The dining room ceiling is
We’ve stayed in two different hotels in Porto and each of them is spectacular. I can’t make up my mind which one is my favorite because each is so different. Both hotels belong to the Pestana Corporation, so you know that they take great pride in all of their properties.
The first place that we’ll talk about is the Pousada do Porto, Freixo Palace Hotel.
The next time we went to Porto we wanted to stay in the city on the waterfront and we knew that Pestana Porto held the same standards that the pousadas did. The Pestana Porto is in the Ribeira section of the city and where most things are going on. We made reservations, and I asked for a room facing the water so that we could see the beautiful bridges and the nightlife. When we got to the Pestana we were shown our room, and we couldn’t have asked for more. This room was on the sixth floor, in the corner and the views of the sunsets and the Douro were
The first thing I want to say about Alvito is that it is out of the way, but well worth it. This castle looks like a fairytale castle and within the enclosed courtyard peacocks strut around and display their beautiful feathers. When you make reservations to go there understand that there is no easy way to get there and the drive can be somewhat desolate in areas. This is a castle different from most of the others. It is in a
Pousada do Castelo de Alvito
What can I say about Guimaraes? If you stay in only one pousada while in the Northern part of Portugal, this should be it. This pousada was one of the most beautiful and relaxing pousada’s we have ever stayed in. The drive up to the pousada is a little hair raising, but once you get up there, the views are spectacular. In the evening all the twinkling lights of Guimaraes are a beautiful sight. The Pousada de Santa Marinha is breathtaking. It has been said that this pousada was built from
This was a surprise and completely not what we expected. This was a little hard to find as it was in back of the town and down a tiny lane leading away from the main road. Once we got our bearings and found the tiny sign that said pousada we were amazed at what we found. The Pousada, Hotel Nossa Sehore Da Assuncao was such a delightful place to stay. There were only around 25-30 rooms, but beautifully done. We were upgraded to a 5 room suite while we were there and we had a very large private deck overlooking the grounds. There is a very large swimming pool in the back looking over the rolling hills of the
Hotel Nossa Sehore Da Assuncao
Beja is situated in the Alentejo region of Portugal. This is a dry arid area and has many olive trees, cork trees, wheat fields and castles. We stayed at the pousada in Beja only once, but enjoyed it very much. Pousada of Beja, Hotel Sao Francisco, is a very elegant pousada right in the heart of the city and directly across the street of the police station. The police are extremely friendly and very helpful with directions. I loved the city of Beja, wonderful shops and museums and
Pousada of Beja, Hotel Sao Francisco
This pousada was the most difficult to find, and if it wasn’t for Hugo from the pousda in Palmela we wouldn’t have found it. The next thing was the drive from the main road up to the pousada, it may give you nightmares, but once you get up there the view is spectacular. Pousada de Sao Filipe is a fort/castle that was built in 1590 by Phillip II of Spain. The view from the pousada dining room is wonderful. There are only two bedrooms that have a view of the sea and we were lucky enough to have one of these. We arrived in the early afternoon and still had not had lunch, so we ordered shrimp cooked in garlic and olive oil outside on the large stone deck facing the sea. When we tasted the shrimp the both of us couldn’t
Overlooking the River Sado sits the Pousada Dom Alfonso II. The city of Alcacer do Sal is a lively fun city and it has a bullring. While we were there, no bullfights were going on, but we did get a tour of the bullring. We saw the small hospital, chapel, and were the bulls are kept before the fight. We saw many pictures and religious articles related to bull fighting. We also had lunch at a restaurant sitting along the River Sado. I forgot to write it down, just found it, Porto Santana. It is not in the city and can be seen from the pousada across the river. The owner helped us order and we had a fantastic tomato soup with an egg in it, grilled pork, and wonderful bread, and of course olives from the Alentejo. This is where we were all introduced to Muscatel and fell in love with it. We found out that this brand of
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The pousada in Crato is a very interesting. This pousada was first built as a monastery. It has a wonder art gallery right inside the pousada and I still remember the art show that was on display while we were there. Someone had done paper mache’ Fernando Pessao, as Superman, Vasco da Gama, Henry the Navigator, etc. I wish to this day that I had gotten the artist name and had one of those paper mache’ figures in my house. They were fantastic. I have searched shops across Portugal to find some, but as of yet have not come across any. I have heard that there is a Pessao Museum in Lisbon and I will go there the next time...with the hopes of finding one. Crato was once an important city in Portugal. The Knight Templars banned, killed and on the run across Europe were given sanctuary in Portugal, in turn they would help drive the Moors and the Spanish out of Portugal. Since the Pope wanted them all dead, they were given a new name in Crato, the Order of Hospitallers and this is where they made their headquarters. (In Tomar, they were called The Order of Christ.) The area around Crato is very interesting and I wish we had more time to explore,
The Pousada Hotel Palacio De Estoi tries to look like the palace at Queluz but it just doesn’t make it. The rooms that are in the main building are beautifully done, but when you get to the dining room, it looks like a school cafeteria. They need to work on that, because that was one of our only complaints with this pousada. I also felt bad for the woman, only 1, who was responsible for waiting on us all…way too much work for one person. The rooms were very modern and clean, and even though we were disappointed in the dining room, the food was good. My husband swears that this was the best cataplana he has ever had. He still says that two years later. You’re not far from Faro, I’d say only about 8 miles and there is a lot to see and do there. And right near the pousada is the remains of some Roman ruins, which you can visit. There are some beautiful fish mosaics at the Roman ruins to see and a church of bones in Faro.
Pousada Hotel Palacio De Estoi
There is a small pousada in Condeixa-a-Nova, the Pousada de Santa Christina. This pousada needs some updating, but there is a lot to see around here and the food is outstanding. Condeix-a-Nova is only about ½ hour from Coimbra, so it’s an easy trip into Coimbra from the pousada. There is a beautiful pool and the grounds are very nice. About ten minutes from the pousada is Conimbriga. This is one of the best excavated Roman ruins that I have ever seen. The mosaics are fabulous and we spent hours, even getting sunburnt, looking at everything. There are reconstructed sunken gardens and pools and villas. This Roman city was inhabited in 2 BC, but became a thriving city around 25 BC. If you see nothing else in the area, you must see this. There is a small coffee shop and a museum that has things excavated from the ruins. I would go back and see this again, very impressive. We ate dinner at the pousada and I’m glad we did because about ten minutes before we were to go to dinner out beautiful weather ended and it started to pour, it was coming down so hard the rain drops were bouncing on the patio outside. Our dinner was fantastic, and we have tried to duplicate this meal many times and just can’t get it right, almost, but just not there yet. We had, a wonderful fried pork, that may have been fried in bacon grease, but what made this meal spectacular was the asparagus cooked in corn bread that was served like couscous. I can’t say enough about the flavor of this meal. Most of the food is wonderful at the pousada’s and some are on a 5 star level. But this homey, fragrant dinner will always be one of our favorites. The town of Condeix-a-Nova is small and easy to navigate, and there are buses that go into Coimbra on a regular bases.
Pousada de Santa Christina
In Sagres, the Pousada do Infante, is situated high on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. We were there in April and the weather was cool and overcast, but I can just imagine what it must look like when it’s warm and sunny. There is a large swimming pool sitting right on the edge of the cliffs and the grounds are immaculate. The rooms are bright and sunny and the reception rooms are a lot of fun. All the rooms that face the ocean have large windows, patios, or balcony’s. The gentleman running the reception area said we should come back in September, because the tourist are gone, but the weather is beautiful that time of year in Sagres and we’d really enjoy it. We ate dinner at a restaurant right down the street from the pousada because it was highly recommended. The Vila Velha had an extensive menu and wine list. I must say that having traveled in Portugal for the past seven years and mostly during April, this was the first time it was cold. We visited the Prince Henry the Navigator’s fortress and saw the large compass out of stones. They have a very good bookstore in the fortress, but you are hard pressed to find anything in English. There is also a chapel built by Henry the Navigator within the fortress walls. The cliff are huge, but not as big as the ones in Ireland, but these are still impressive. I loved watching the men sitting on the edge of the cliffs fishing. The wind was really gusty and I wouldn’t venture too close to the edge, but we did get some good pictures.