While living in the center of Europe, we are granted the wonderful opportunity to have relatively easy access to so many unique locations. Reini wanted to spend time at the beach and I wanted to explore a different culture – so we somehow settled on Portugal! It was Reini’s dream to rent a car and drive along the coast. We did that and a whole lot more! Above is a Google map showing our route. Portugal is a small country – not much longer than the state of Georgia. It’s squeezed against the Atlantic Ocean, and it only shares borders with Spain. They speak Portuguese – it looks similar to Spanish when written, but spoken Portuguese sounds TOTALLY different. Portuguese people start their mornings late, enjoy an afternoon siesta, and then have dinner late in the night.
I’ll start off with our story about Lisbon, our first stop and Portugal’s capital city. Lisbon is an old city and has seen its fair share of rulers throughout its history. But now it has an interesting mix of old with new. We mostly stuck to the beautiful Alfama district. It supposedly retained its Moorish influence with its Arab-style street layout, which just seems to wind about aimlessly. The story is that other parts of the city are more logical because the city had to be rebuilt after a devastating series of earthquakes and a tidal wave in 1755. The Alfama is built around a rocky hill (I guess providing it protection against the quake) and makes for some beautiful sights. We hopped on historic Tram 28 and rode to the end, at the base of our first castle of the trip – Castelo de São Jorge. We wandered a bit through the streets, climbed a few flights of steep stairs, paid our admission tickets and then were rewarded with sweeping vistas of the city below.
Lisbon was boiling hot when we visited (100+ degrees) so we decided to make a pool stop to escape the heat. Our hotel didn’t have its own pool but gave us passes to use one across the street. It was definitely a hang out spot for the locals! There I learned that Portuguese women all wear the smallest bikinis possible, no matter their body type. I already stood out with my pale complexion, so they must have thought I looked really silly slathering on the SPF 50 while in my butt-covering bikini!
We really enjoyed the food offerings in Lisbon after the sun went down. Reini loved their fresh fish options and I found their food tasty and different. One of my dinners included ‘pork lizards’. Not actually lizards, but they looked like it! Kind of silly, but worth a try! We ended the night walking through some beautiful parts of the town, along the waterway.