Spain & Portugal Blog 07

May 2019

If you happened to be driving around Southern Portugal on Sunday May 26th you might have seen us, motoring happily along the highway through pine-covered hills (a stark contrast to the flat-as-a-pancake plains of Spain). We parked up for a while in picturesque, fairytale Sintra – an attractive UNESCO site known for its bustling town-centre, its pastel-hued manors, and its wacky, dreamy, multi-coloured Pena Palace – restored in the 1800s by good King Ferdinand II from the ruins of an old monastery.

Next stop for us was at Praia da Claridade, along Portugal’s Silver Coast: “an unbroken stretch of pristine shoreline,” according to one website, “white sandy beaches, and pounding Atlantic seas.” I’ve seen video-clips of terrifyingly huge waves (up to 30 metres high at famous surfing spots like Nazaré, a little further north) – but the ‘pounding seas’ were calm, flat and boring the night we stayed there.


Our third stop (next morning) was at Coimbra: a riverfront city in central Portugal, home to a well-looked-after medieval old town plus an elegant, historic university – oozing with charm and crawling with bright-eyed students.

COMING UP: We continue north to Porto, Portugal’s second city (although its citizens claim it is second-to-none). Don’t go away, because we’re about to fall in love with this old town, its golden rooftops, long seafood dinners, slow strolls along cobbled streets, and generous glasses of the local favourite – port wine – as the sun sets across the Douro River.

PEOPLE-NEWS: Two more lucky duckies have left home, quack-quack-quacking their yellow heads off…

  • JENNY scored big-time with our ‘All I Want For Xmas Is My One Front Tooth Award’ – when a fairly prominent front incisor fell out! Jenny was distraught, but I was able to comfort her: “Don’t be embarrassed about the big black hole in your face …” Congratulations, Jenny, for your cover-up efforts with chewing-gum!
  • JEANETTE ran off with her second duck and our ‘Dead To The World Award’ – for oversleeping the other day, waking five minutes before departure, rushing around like a blue-bottomed fly, and making it with seconds to spare for our morning walking tour. Phew!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!


  1. Hi Coons … Totally love the pix. Has made us determined that this place goes on the list 🙂
    It has its own flavor don’t you think. Thanks for sharing the fun you have … just awesome. Love n Hugz The Kerks

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