Sunday, February 2, 2014

Portugal Trip Summary

Portugal was great and we had a very relaxing week exploring the country.  It was also well-timed as we only had to deal with one day of snow in Brno before we left.

The 1st time on TAP

We left from Vienna Airport on TAP airlines and flew direct to Lisbon.  Once we arrived we took the train 2.5 hours north to Porto.

Porto is quite a lovely city with lots to see. We also enjoyed Nova de Gaia and some excellent port wine.

Porto's Atlantic coast

And although it was a bit chilly in January, I was so nice to see the ocean.

We also discovered Francesinha.  Porto's famous "Little Frenchie" sandwich.  Basically a sandwich of ham, sausage and skirt steak covered with melted cheese and topped with a fried egg.  The sandwich sits in a warm sauce made from tomato and beer.  One of these at lunch time and you were still full at dinner time.

The most sophisticated McDonald's ever

I'm not a big fan of McDonald's.  However, Porto is home to the coolest Mickey D's that I've ever seen.  The art deco stained glass windows and chandeliers throughout the place are incredible.

Plus, a couple of coffees and desserts was only €3.60 ($5).  Way more economical than Geneva.  

By the time we could navigate Porto without a map it was time to take the train down to Lisbon.  I really enjoyed Lisbon.  There was so much to explore that it was tough to fit everything in.

Belém Tower

Lisbon is built on a number of hills so you definitely get your exercise in just walking through the town.

Krasimir at Alfama
Almost everyone here speaks English, French or Spanish.  And if they don't then you can easily get by with hand gestures and less than a dozen words of Portuguese.

The one thing that I didn't care for were the drug dealers.  It really got on my nerves, while going out for an evening walk, to have dealers offer me marijuana or hashish.  It was usual to be approached at least six times per evening.  It never felt unsafe but it was annoying.  Perhaps we looked the part?  Or maybe it's just because there are way more tourists in Lisbon because this never happened in Porto.

Palace Square

Heights aren't my favorite thing in the world.  However, I did push myself to go for a cable car ride along the ocean.

My favorite discovery in Portugal was Maracujá Fanta.  I love anything with passion fruit and this is awesome!  Why, oh why, don't they have this in Czechland? 

From Lisbon we took a day trip to Sintra.  All of the castles and palaces are amazing.  It's well worth the trip.  If we had the time, we would have spent the night so we could have had two fulls day there.  Maybe next time.

Overall a great week in Portugal.  It did rain every day we were there but it never rained all day long, and certainly not enough to ruin the trip.  We're keen to visit Portugal again.  Other places on the list for next time include Faro, Coimbra, Fátima, Nazaré and Guimarães.

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