Estoi Palace

Present meets past?

I wanted somewhere suitably elegant to end my daughter’s visit to the Algarve, and they don’t come any more elegant than the Estói Palace.  In A palace in warm sunshine, back in November 2014, I suggested that it might make a good venue for afternoon tea.  Do you remember it, Paula?  Long overdue, I think.  The sun was just sliding down the sky when we got there and the terrace looked so inviting.

What a study in opulence this place is.  No need to introduce you to azulejos after Monday’s post but I can never resist sharing a few more beauties.

More restoration work had been carried out since my last visit.  The small summerhouses were a picture, with their vibrant stained glass and painted walls and ceiling.  The grotto was open and my son-in-law, who has a particular interest in ironwork, studied the details with interest.

Enough of admiring our reflection.  It’s time to go indoors for refreshment.  Truth be told, it really couldn’t compete with the decor.

Does that window look familiar, Becky?  You’ll be happily ensconced in your Algarve life by now.  I’ve taken liberties with your Past meets Present.  I’m sorry!  You did such a nice job on the Palacio not long ago.  Paula- I thought you might like an update for Traces of the Past?

Oddly enough, the waiter said they only had cheesecake.  Ah well!  Cake’s cake, isn’t it?  There wasn’t a crumb left when son-in-law had finished.

A palace in warm sunshine

Restored to glory- the fountains at Estoi Palace

Restored to glory- the fountains at Estoi Palace

One of my treats to myself on my visit to the Algarve was the Garden Fair, being held at Estoi Palace for the first time this November.  When I came here 10 years ago, the palace was a down-at-heel ruin, but with enchanting grounds that cast their own spell.  The past was cupped in the chipped and empty fountains, and breathed through the azulejos adorning the walls.

I was half delighted, but half concerned to hear of a proposed restoration that would turn the palace into a pousada, one of Portugal’s elite hotels.  The transformation took many long years but, when the hotel finally opened its doors, I was hugely impressed.  The grand salon was grace and elegance, with incredible ceilings, and the gardens had been given a modern twist, yet retained the features that had made them so beautiful.  The new ‘add on’ for the hotel guest rooms was not so pleasing, but I was simply grateful that this lovely ruin had been given a life.

At this stage there was still much to do, and the ongoing work on the fountains and flights of stairs had placed them ‘out of bounds’.  I remembered wistfully when I had been able to wander at will, conjuring with dreams.  So it was, with a flutter of excitement, that I returned to Estoi for the Garden Fair.

The side gate to the palace

The side gate to the palace- the lion is genially on guard

I didn’t expect that tiny Estoi would be playing host to so many people that day, but as the sun beamed with unseasonable heat, it became clear that this was to be a popular event.  I was glad that I had arrived promptly for the 11am opening.  As one of the wardens pointed out to me, this is the Algarve’s only historic garden.

What else to enjoy the sunshine but cacti?

What better to enjoy the sunshine than cacti?

 

 

I have to admit that I didn’t linger as long as I might, delightful though it all was.  I could not wait to move on from the plant stalls and into the gardens.  The former coach house had been transformed into a magnificent exhibition space, with gleaming floors and chandelier embellishments.  Air plants nestled amongst the crafts, with potions made from herbs, and exquisite mosaics.  I eased myself past temptation and out into the garden.

Dappled shade led to the grand staircase

Dappled shade led to the grand staircase

The azulejos were as beautiful as I remembered

The azulejos as beautiful as I remembered

The details quite beguiling

The details quite beguiling

Looking back at my photos I don’t think I did the palace gardens justice, but you will have a general impression which I hope might tempt you to go there some day.  The palace itself is beautiful.  Perhaps I might take afternoon tea there one day and show you inside.

The palace and parterres

The palace and parterres

It may not reflect quite the type of warmth that Paula was thinking of, but I think this post might sit nicely on her Thursday’s Special.  Come with me and admire.

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Six word Saturday

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Overwhelmed with wishes!  Thank you all!

I seem to've got myself in a hole at the moment!

I seem to’ve got myself in a bit of a hole!

You’ll be able to find out where on next Monday’s walk, but meanwhile I have some serious catching up to do!  I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has left comments on the blog in the past week.  I’ll be visiting you as soon as I possibly can.

I had a wonderful birthday, and the smile on my face wasn’t even seriously dented when my mobile phone made a bid for freedom from the bottom of my bag and swam off beneath the ferry!  It did, of course, provide much amusement for the other passengers.  I hope you’ll excuse me if I simply post a quick gallery of highlights.

Rounded off nicely with a stroll by the river

Rounded off nicely with a stroll by the river

Such delightful memories!  Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend.  I’m off to visit Cate at Show My Face and check out Six Word Saturday. See you soon!

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Sunday Post : Goals

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Jakesprinter’s subject for this week’s Sunday Post is Goals.  Not my favourite topic, but let’s play with it!

Estadio de Luz, Benfica

Estadio de Luz, Benfica

Estadio do Algarve

Estadio do Algarve

Both my husband and son are huge football fans, and can’t wait to check out the local stadium whenever we travel.  Which leaves me free to look at more interesting things.  And I do!

The former palacio at Estoi, now a hotel

Like the former palacio at Estoi, now a pousada, or hotel

An exotic plant (don't ask me which one)

Or these exotic plants (please don’t ask their name!)

Looking over Lisbon rooftops to the River Tejo

The view of the River Tejo in Lisbon was very pretty

But Tavira's riverbank by night is lovely too

But Tavira’s riverbank by night is lovely too

Admire a restaurant sign

I could admire a restaurant sign or two

Or take a wild ride at the funfair

Or take a wild ride at the funfair

But most likely, I'll linger by that bridge again!

But most likely, I’ll linger by that bridge again!

And next morning wake in my lovely Tavira home

And, next morning, wake in my lovely Tavira home

I don’t really have my goals for 2013 clearly defined yet.  I surely plan to spend more time in Tavira, and to do some travelling around Portugal.  I usually try to tie that in to a festival or event.  Jerez and Cadiz have been beckoning me for a while, and I’m mildly curious about Gibraltar.

I absolutely must do something about my wilting language skills, particularly because I hope to visit Polish family again this Spring.  A new self-hosted website, a photo book?  Those decisions still haven’t been taken.  Live my life as fully as I can, without hurting those around me.  I guess that has to be my main goal.  And if I could do a little good along the way, that would be magnificent.  I’ll let you know how I do.

I’m sure there are some cracking goals on Jake’s page, so let’s hit the flying dragon logo link and go check him out, shall we?  It’s always a pleasure.