We spent a week camped close to the capital of Portugal – Lisbon. This was an ideal base to visit the capital, other coastal towns and the World Heritage Site of Sintra in the hills. Lisbon was in many ways a little disappointing; maybe we had expected too much or maybe we are a bit “travelled out”. The old quarter, the Alfama, was fascinating with narrow and confusing lanes. Historic tram 28 was a riot as it climbed impossible hills and hurtled around blind corners, and Belem with all the maritime history and the Monastery of Saint Jerome were up to par. Some parts seemed dowdy and relatively uninteresting.
Our day in Sintra was outstanding with the Moorish hilltop castle, 2 palaces and lots of speciality deserts.
We have ended this week as far south in Portugal as we can go – the Algarve, which is quite a different place, especially at its western, rugged end. It is full of GB number-plated vehicles, fish and chips and barking dogs at night – but it is sunny and warm and has some great hiking.
We are now headed to Seville, Spain where we will spend Christmas and New Year with Sally and her boyfriend Chris, who are joining us on Christmas Eve.
Best wishes to all our friends and family for the festive season! We will update again in the New Year……….
Things we have learned about Portugal in the last week:
• You know you are in a deeply religious country, when a bank has Spirito Sancto in its name.
• When your spouse mentions casually that she has 4 Christmas presents for you, despite agreeing “no presents this year” and it is December 21st, do you head for the nearest Shopping Mall or watch soccer on TV?
• Ian has found the closest thing to the perfect town – Luz in the Algarve. Top things that have elevated this small place to stardom include Marmite on the grocery shelves, 2 pubs selling English beer on draft and to cap it all TWO Indian restaurants by the waterfront. We ate at one (after a couple of pints) and it was excellent. There are lots of properties for sale here. Hmmmm…………. Should we?
• Portugal is a place where you can hike in thermal underwear one day, and then shorts and T-shirt another – the hikes being only 300 KMS apart.
We will give you a piece of interesting travel trivia each week to broaden your mind (and ours). Try not to “Google” the answer……
Last week’s question: SAUDADE is a unique Portuguese word that describes what?
And the answer is: It is the nostalgic, often deeply melancholic longing for something - it can be a person, a place or anything that is no longer attainable. Saudade is deeply intertwined with Portuguese identity. Portugal’s most famous style of music, FADO, couldn’t exist without Saudade.
This week’s question: What percentage of the Portuguese economy is dependent upon tourism? 40%, 60%, 80% or 90%?
Until the next time,
Liz & Ian