Category Archives: Portugal

Lisbon and a Cruise on the Duoro River

Hi Everybody

We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise on the Duoro River in Portugal.

Just before the Cruise we spent a fcouple of days in Lisboa and then travelled to Porto to get on the Viking River Cruise.

Alas the weather wasn’t always as good as we would have expected in Portugal in June but slowly it improved and luckily it didn’t stop us enjoying the towns, cities and scenery. Of course we also enjoyed the Port and the Douro wine too and our trips to various places were all very interesting.

Last year we spent time in Lisboa so I am using one painting from that trip to introduce this Post.

What better than one of their iconic trams in the old town area of Lisboa.

 

A Tram in Old Lisboa

While we were in Lisboa we took a day trip to Sintra and its amazing Pena Palace. Then a lovely journey along the coast to see the most westerly point of mainland Europe and the cliffs and bays of the Atlantic. I have some paintings of the coast planned for the future.

Here is a quick sketch of Pena Palace. If you visit do go inside it is a very interesting visit.

Pena Palace at Sintra

Our transfer to Porto took us to Coimbra, an ancient University town about halfway from Lisboa to Porto.

Our arrival in Porto was rather wet but luckily the sun broke through the following day and so I was able to paint this double spread sketch of Porto. It is a lovely City with much to see and do and especially taste the Port. The history of Port production is fascinating and we learnt a lot from a great visit to the Sandeman cellars.

Porto from the South bank of the Douro River. Sketch book watercolour 18 inches by 8.

From Porto we sailed up the Douro through it’s amazing locks and visited a number of places along the way , stopping each night, before heading off the next day. The scenery is spectacular and the number of Vineyards and Wine producers quite amazing.

Here are a couple of Douro river scenes

Vineyard and the Douro. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

By the bank of the Douro. ketch 9 by 8 inches.

One visit took us to Mateus Palace, this is the Palace used to name the Mateus Rose wine which I am sure you have come across. Probably a scene for a future painting but I was stuck that day by the Church and Vineyards, just next door and here is a quick sketch I made of the scene.

Igreja de Mateus Church near Mateus Palace.

 

One day we visited the very old Town of Castelo Rodrigo. The Castle is now mainly a ruin but once this was a dominant Castle town on the Portuguese /Spanish Border. It has a very old and has a quite magnificent Church to visit too. It is the Ingreja Matriz de Castelo Rodrigo.

Castelo Rodrigo . Watercolour Sketch,9 by 8 inches.

Our final trip before retuning down the Douro river with its wonderful scenery was into Spain to see Salamanca. Salamanca is an imposing and interesting city with a great history and a very old University. There are many stork nests in the City too, all in precarious places and all inhabited by the many storks there.

I hope to produce quite a few paintings of Salamanca in the future but here is the one sketch and one larger watercolour that I have so far painted.

In Salamanca. A watercolour sketch, 9 inches by 8

The Gold hues of Salamanca. Watercolour 14 inches by 10

We have come back with many wonderful photos of the Douro Valley and River and the fine memories of very nice people that we met with on the cruise and in Portugal. Always a warm welcome and wonderful wine and Port. I will be searching out more Portugeuse, especially Douro, Wine here in the UK. If you find some buy it and drink it, you will not be disappointed.

Happy Travelling

Brian

Iberian Encounters – A cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona.

Almost every year we take a cruise with some very good friends from the USA.

This years cruise had been planned for a while and took us from Lisbon in Portugal around the Iberian Peninsula to Barcelona in Spain.

With interesting ports of call along the way and really good weather we all got a little taste of Portugal and Spain and thus  lots more ideas for visits to both Countries.

I have taken to travelling with a smaller sketch book recently so most of these very quick paintings are about 24 by 20 cms, and are intended as the basis of larger paintings in the future. These sketch books made by Khadi papers are nice to use with pen and ink and some watercolour. I am enjoying using them for travel. Most of the watercolours are from my own photos and one or two are from images found in brochures along the way.

Lisbon was our starting point and we had a couple of days there before embarking to enjoy this very interesting city.

One evening in Lisbon we ate in a really great restaurant called “Lisboa a Noite”. It isn’t far from the Gloria or Santa Justa elevators but hard to find. Maybe take a taxi! Well worth the visit.

It is pretty hilly in Lisbon! If a local tells you you can walk somewhere in 20 minutes take a taxi, as a local’s  20 minutes  is a lot longer if you are not used to steep hills!!

Belem Tower

The trams are great to watch in Lisbon, however rather overcrowded and slow but fine nevertheless. We took the tram to Belem Tower and the Monastery there, and very importantly went to the Cafe called Pasteis de Belem for their fantastic custard tarts. Really delicious.

The Number 28 tram on its way to Lisbon Castle

A Tram on one of the funicular sections of the Old Town

In the centre of Lisbon the streets are often very steep and this painting shows a tram on one of them. I hope to do many more tram paintings from all the photos that I took.

After sailing from Lisbon we arrived the next day at Portimao. Portimao is a large and very popular beach resort in summer, but for us it meant a trip to the very old and lovely town of Selves.

The Old Town of Selves

With a  castle at the top it is a delight to walk around and  also has a good museum. This view is from the lower town up to the Castle. Just across from our ship we could see the castle at Ferraguda, but we didn’t have time for a visit though. However just time for a quick watercolour .

Ferraguda Castle near Portimao

From Portimao we sailed on to Cadiz in Spain.

The old town of Cadiz is very walkable and flat! It is very interesting too with a great market and a wonderful Cathedral and nearby Church with Processional items that are really amazing.

At the edge of the City the walk way by the sea offers great views. Here are three paintings of Cadiz, painted when back on the ship.

Cadiz Cathedral from the promenade.

The Playa de la Caleta offers fine views both by day and as the sun sets.

Playa de la Caleta looking south.

Playa de la Caleta as the sun sets

Our next port of call was Gibraltar but alas mist shrouded the Rock all day so no paintings there! However the caves on the Rock and the Town are very interesting and the history of Gibraltar is fascinating. I am not sure about the Barbary apes though!

From there we sailed to Malaga where our priority was to revisit tThe Alhambra Place in Granada. This time we had guide which was great as there is so much to see and hear about. This view tries to show the Alhambra with the mountains behind. Even in April they are snow capped.

The Alhambra place in Granada

After a stop at Cartagena the next day where the Roman amphitheatre is spectacular, we next went on to Ibiza. We hadn’t been there since 1971, but luckily despite major changes to the island the Old Town hasn’t changed and so these two paintings were the result.

Ibiza Old Town

 

The view from the top of Ibiza Old Town

Our next stop was Valencia where the Old town was really lovely. This spectacular city needed much more time that we had on a cruise and so it’s a place to revisit one day, not only to see the Old Town but also the new and amazing new buildings there. It is a beautiful City.

Our final destinions was Barcelona and visits to Gaudi a designed Church, and Houses as well as the truly amazing Sagrada Familia. They say it will be finished in 2027,  they will have to be busy as it is truly huge!

I am still trying to plan a larger painting of the Sagrad Familia  but that will have to be for another time.

So the end of a great cruise and a lovely time with such good friends.

I hope you have enjoyed these little encounters with the Iberian Peninsula

Till next time, happy travelling

Brian

 

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