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PESTANO PALACIO DO FREIXO AND CASA SERRALVES

James Andrew at Casa Serralves

James Andrew at Casa Serralves

After a fine breakfast at our fabulous hotel Pestana Palacio do Freixo, with the able assistance of the attentive staff we were off for another day’s adventure.

While we’ve been exploring many of the classic mansions and palaces of Portugal we were interested to see a rare modernest example, namely the Casa Serralve located on the outskirts of Porto. It’s an utterly beautiful classicist masterpiece with hints of Deco and gardens influenced by 16th and 17th French formal designs. The estate which included a working farm, was commissioned by the 2nd Count of Vizela Carlos Alberto Cabral.

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Cerralves, Porto

Casa Cerralves, Porto

Cabral was so impressed by the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts in Paris that he hired a whole team of French Architects and designers to work on the project — primarily French Architect Charles Siclis with the help of Jose Marques da Silva. The Interiors were designed by Jacques Emile Ruhlman, Rene Lalique, Edgar Brandt, Ivan da SIlva Bruhns, Jules Leleu, Jean Parzel and Raymond Subes.

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Serralves, Porto

Casa Cerralves, Porto

Casa Cerralves, Porto

Sadly all the furniture is gone, yet one can still get a sense of what this house once was, no doubt reminiscent of the grand salons aboard legendary ocean liners like the Normandie. We were so taken with the place that we actually came back after lunch at the superb restaurant Cafeina, to soak in a few more moments of the impossibly beautiful place.

After Casa Serralves, we dashed back to town to catch up with a few super chic Porto based friends. Later we were treated to the most divine dinner at the Pestana Palacio do Freixo’s Palatium Restaurant — a veritable feast with wine pairings was the most fantastic celebration before leaving Porto — we will definitely need to return and spend more time there with so much more to see!

Pestana Palacio do Freixo, Porto

Pestana Palacio do Freixo, Porto

I’m captured (top) at the sublime Casa Serralves, sporting a Tom Ford ivory cotton/cashmere corduroy jacket, charcoal wool cashmere pant and black and white silk pocket square, Tom Ford era Gucci red cashmere turtleneck sweater and black suede loafers, vintage Rolex, Tom Ford Bronzing Gel for a sun kissed glow and my fragrance is Creed Windsor.

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PORTO AND THE PESTANA PALACIO DO FREIXO HOTEL

James Andrew at the Pestana Palacio do Freixo

James Andrew at the Pestana Palacio do Freixo

Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, was also at the top of our list of places to explore in Portugal. With its magnificent Medieval flavor and rich heritage, the place is simply bursting with delights. We effortlessly hopped on an express train from Lisbon and two and a half hours later we were in Porto!

In keeping with the idea of exploring Portugal’s great houses and palaces via its palace hotels, we chose the splendid Pestana Palacio do Freixo as our base of operations in Porto. The Palacio do Freixo was commissioned by the Dean of Porto’s cathedral in the 18th century and designed by the Italian architect Nasoni, it stands as a marvelous example of Portuguese Baroque. The hotel consists of two buildings: the palace proper where one takes meals and/or enjoys cocktails in the grand sitting room; and a converted factory/mill building where the guests are situated in large well appointed rooms. We, ourselves, were given a really sumptuous suite of rooms with beautiful views of the Douro river.

After quickly settling in, McBee and I dashed off to lunch. As you know we were wild about chef Jose Avillez cuisine in Lisbon, and so we headed to Cantinho Oporto which is his new outpost in Porto. Needless to say, we were not disappointed.

With our bellies full, and despite some rather dreary weather (the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Porto, wait five minutes and it will change — thankfully the saying is quite true!), we pushed on to some of truly unforgettable sites!

Igreja de Sao Francisco is an over-the-top indulgent baroque fantasy of a church. The “Tree of Jesse” in the nave is a must see. A visit to the Sao Bento train station with its marvelous monumental azulejo mural panels is just sublime. Nearby, the Se cathedral and its cloisters provide more azulejo inspiration and beauty!

The Cloisters at Se cathedral, Porto

The Cloisters at Se cathedral, Porto

For a quick pick-me-up, the Cafe Majestic a Belle Epoque tea house is a must.

The lavish neoclassical palace, Alacio da Bolsa (the stock exchange), built with absolutely no expense spared is another awe-inspiring creation. Its Salao Arabe is an absolute dream.

Palacio da Bolsa Salao Arabe, Porto-

Palacio da Bolsa Salao Arabe, Porto-

The Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, another Neo-Classical style palace, houses the most exquisite collection of decorative arts and paintings. It is another two for one experiences; not only does it house a marvelous collection, but the palace and grounds (replete with the most enchanting Camellia trees) alone are well worth the visit!

Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, Porto

Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, Porto

 Sao Bento Train Station Azulejo Panel - Porto

Sao Bento Train Station Azulejo Panel, Porto

We returned to our accommodations at Pestana Palacio do Freixo for a bit of luxury — and a couple glasses of port! — before heading off to dinner. We highly suggest dining at DOP which serves a fresh and innovative take on the cuisine of Porto and its region — despite a rather minimal setting, the food is fabulous.

I’m captured exploring the palace and gardens (top) at the fabulous Pestana Palacio do Freixo. I’m sporting a Tom Ford era Gucci white,black and saddle leather biker jacket, Etro silk paisley scarf, Turnbull and Asser red tartan cotton shirt with white contrast collar and cuffs, antique Victorian Scottish agate cuff links, uniqlo jean, Ralph Lauren red alligator belt with sterling buckle, Tom Ford era Windsor loafers in black leather, and vintage Rolex, Tom Ford London fragrance and Tom Ford Bronzing Gel.

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TREILLAGE FOR BREAKFAST AT PESTANA PALACE

James Andrew at the Pestana Palace hotel treillage dining room.

James Andrew at the Pestana Palace hotel treillage dining room.

I could not imagine a more sublime way to begin the day (after a blissful nights rest) than by having breakfast in the tremendous treillage dining room at the magnificent Pestana Palace. It provides the perfect launching ground for any Lisbon itinerary, and the extremely capable Palace concierge will make it all happen — logistics, reservations for lunch and dinner, etc.,..all arranged to perfection.

Get a copy of the Portugal Eyewitness Travel Guide for excellent detailed city break-downs for your excursions. There is so much to see in Lisbon and you simply won’t have time to see everything, so pick your destination and above all, don’t rush! It’s a holiday after all!

We always organize our day by making certain to find the loveliest dining experiences — Gambrinus is not to be missed. It’s one of those old guard establishments that has not changed much in its 78 years of serving up superb traditional Portuguese cuisine. Nearby you will find the ravishing ruins of Igreja do Cormo, the monumental Praca Dom Pedro IV and as you continue to stroll, the Praca do Comercio and much much more! For dinner – we can’t stop ranting about Bistro 100 Maneiras which is redefining haute cuisine in Portugal. It is a must!

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo

Praca Dom Pedro IV

Praca Dom Pedro IV

Praca do Comercio

Praca do Comercio

(Top) I’m sporting a Tom Ford era Gucci biker jacket in white, black and saddle leather, Tom Ford grey corduroy pants and gray and charcoal checked shirt, Ralph Lauren black and white silk polka dot silk scarf and black alligator belt with sterling buckle, Tom Ford era Gucci black suede loafers, vintage Rolex, Tom Ford Bronzing Gel and Tom Ford London is my fragrance.