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  • Writer's picturesi newell

October Portugal - an island wedding and a mainland study trip...

A long weekend at a friend's wedding...


It's always great when you get invited to a wedding somewhere exciting - I've visited Madeira several times and love it. It is always a very comfortable place at any time of year with a wonderful climate and is a genuinely lovely island.

We flew on a morning flight and got a bus to the capital, checking into one of my favourite hotels, Casino Park designed by the world famous Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer in the nineteen seventies. Afterwards I ventured back into the centre of delightful Funchal for an early evening sketch in a small square adjacent to one of the main streets whilst watching the world go by.


We had been invited to join the happy couple, Mark and Jacks, on a trip up to the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens reached by an exciting cable car ride.

The gardens are lush and stunning and I managed a quick watercolour whilst there. A great day was completed by a delicious evening dinner with Mark and friends in a fabulous little local restaurant.


A perfect day at the world famous Reids Palace Hotel for a perfect wedding for a perfect sketching today (although I did take my sketch book just in case!).


A relaxing day enjoying the beautiful hotel pool and later on a gentle walk around Funchal, stopping for lunch, coffees and a few scribbles.

I returned to the centre before dinner to sketch Praca Amarela as the sun set on the south coast of the island.


On our final day, we ventured out again into the city centre. I managed to sketch whilst we stopped in a delightful square, Praca de Columbo, for coffee and wonderful cakes while sitting in the beautiful autumn sun.

We explored other parts of the city that we had not visited before, discovering Rua da Carreiro, a cute pedestrianised street that boasts an amazing tiled surface that as in so much of Portugal creates a stunning reflective public realm.

Before catching the bus to the airport, we enjoyed a break in Jardim Municipal - a perfect way to finish our trip to an island I have no doubt we will visit again and again.

And two weeks later...Friday

I was lucky enough to be invited to join a study trip to Lisbon organised by a company I work with. After an early flight, we travelled by the local metro from the airport to the city centre in time for lunch and a tour around the highlights of the central district and waterside area - pausing of course for some amazing fresh Pastel de Nata.

Before meeting for dinner, I quickly sketched as the sun set over the River Tagus, creating beautiful shadows across the imposing Praca do Comercio


We travelled west of the city in the morning, visiting an eclectic mix of stunning contemporary and historic architecture that line the waterside - the stunning new Fundacao Champalimaud and the MAAT as well as the picturesque Torre de Belem medieval tower (I really want to go back to draw this one day!) and the dramatic monument 'Padrão dos Descobrimentos' - a huge statue built in 1940.

After lunch we returned to the city centre and walk up the steep hill to the beautiful area around Castelo de Sao Jorge stopping for a couple of delicious small glasses of Port - well you have to when in Portugal! And perfect to put me in the mood for a quick watercolour at Largo Portas do Sol - a vibrant popular place with dramatic views over the city.

Then we all met for a lively Saturday night dinner at a waterside restaurant before checking out some of the city centre nightlife.


After checking out of the hostel, we all caught a train to Oriente, a new quarter of the city and made famous by several iconic contemporary structures - Calatrava's Gare Do Oriente Station completed in time for the 1998 Lisbon Expo and Alvaro Siza Vieira's Portugal Pavilion with its almost impossibly thin concrete canopy draped over an open public plaza.

A twenty minute scribble followed a light lunch before a final train to the airport for our late afternoon TAP flight back to Heathrow.

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