Saturday, July 25, 2015

Feeling at Home in Portugal

Ahhh, the Mediterranean

[Note: Forgive the horrible layout. I have more pictures than words and dinnertime is approaching, so my priority is to get this done so I can go eat more fabulous food.]

Well, I stand corrected ... Barcelona was laid-back and friendly, but it was also jam-packed with tourists and was rather frenetic in its friendliness. But Portugal, though still crawling with tourists, is even more chill and relaxed and friendly (as long as you stay away from the frazzled, possibly chauvinistic waiter at the touristy restaurant on Rossio Square).
Sagrada Familia interior

After a slight, but very expensive, SNAFU in Barcelona involving misread time tables and incorrect checkout times, A. Karen and I spent our "extra" day in Barcelona checking out the Barcelona Cathedral and taking a tour of the absolutely fantastical Sagrada Familia. Gaudí had an ingenious, incomparable vision and mind. It's amazing to see his creation still being continued today (though many agree there is no way that what is being created would be what would have been built if he could have lived the 150-plus years it is taking to complete it). It is like no other cathedral, and I can't even begin to describe it. Unfortunately, even our photos don't do it justice, as it is absolutely impossible to capture. It isn't just visual. It is full of feeling and sound and light, even when infested with hundreds of tourists just like us ... gawking at the architecture; snapping countless photos with our phones, camera, iPads; and just trying to take it all in before shuffling on to the next site.
Continuing construction
on Sagrada Familia
Detail from Sagrada Familia exterior

We were overwhelmed and overwrought and overheated by the time we left. But with a little help from Google Maps and a lot of luck, we stumbled on a little vegetarian corner restaurant that was serving exactly what we needed ... a light, fresh, delicious lunch with gallons of water, not to mention a clean W.C.!
A. Karen enjoying the view
from Pena Palace in Sintra

Our flight to Lisbon was smooth and easy, albeit more than 12 hours later than what it should have been. We ate the most expensive little sandwich and water ever on the plane, but appreciated every bite, as that turned out to be dinner. (It was actually absolutely free, until you take into the fact that we had to pay for the change in flight ... our error, not theirs.) Once again, navigating our way through terminals, baggage claim, taxi lines was as smooth as could be, and before we knew it, we were settled into our latest home away from home, the Hotel do Chiado, which is about 2.5 blocks from where Mark and I stayed when we came through Lisbon 5 years ago.
Fisherman near Belém Tower, Lisbon

This city and its surroundings are simply beautiful. All Old World charm, with pastel, balconied homes lining the seven hills overlooking the Tagus River, which comes with its very own Golden Gate Bridge (aka the Ponte 25 de Abril), designed by the same guy who did the US version. We've dined on incredibly fresh fish and grilled meat, as well as the Lisbon speciality: Pasteis de Bacalhau, which is essentially the most delicious, cheese-filled fishstick you'll ever eat. We've exhausted ourselves with castles and monasteries and cathedrals and palaces and museums. We are just about historied out. For tomorrow, we are debating whether we should take in even more historical marvels or just go to the beach for the celebratory last day of the GMT.
Old-school selfie on our room's terrace
I loved this Moorish castle the first time I came here with Mark,
and I still love it, especially with hydrangeas.

1 comment:

Martin said...

Just discovered this, your latest foray. Glad to see you out there having fun :)

Cheers Martin W