Portugal: MY 50TH COUNTRY!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018



This time a few years ago I hadn't ever ventured off the North American continent. Now I've seen 50 countries on six of the seven continents. Wowwwww!

I saved Portugal for last on my Euro trip, and it was a nice wind down from the thrill that was France and the whirlwind that was Italy!

For this trip I visited Lisbon and Porto, and spent 4 days/night in each city.

One word to describe Lisbon is "electrifying". There was always something going on, and the World Cup competition made the city even more energetic.

Bustling side streets of Lisboa

Lisbon also served as a reminder of how I came to be who I am today. Unfortunately, many of Lisbon's monuments pay homage to imperialist Portugal and its "explorers", who largely contributed to the colonial world that we know today.

I speak English because of these jokers behind me.
Pardon my back

Another mar on Portugal was the food. My goodness, I struggled. Codfish and sardines are the country's staples. Meh. I did try, though.

I ate one.
Tasted like breaded mackerel.
This was supposed to be chicken, but tasted like meatballs.

Lisbon was still pretty cool despite the problematic monuments and the struggle dishes.

Belem Tower

Facade of Jeronimo's Monastery

Jacaranda in bloom 💜
25 de Abril Bridge
Looks a lot like Golden Gate, huh?
The statue is their version of Christ the Redeemer, much smaller than the one in Rio

The best part of this visit was my day trip to Sintra. It was really easy getting from Lisboa to Sintra by direct train. The journey took around an hour, and was very cheap.

Plenty of seats en route to Sintra
Looked the same on the way back, too
But don't be fooled, somehow the Sintra was CROWDED

Oh hey, pretty Pena Palace

Sintra views from above

Castle of the Moors

By the time I got to Portugal, I was beat. I started feeling the weight of the trip both physically and emotionally. To make matters worse, Brussels Air lost both of my bags during my journey from NAP-LIS (as of this posting, one bag is still  M.I.A. 😡).
So my elderly "lewks" above come courtesy of their snafu. I had nothing; I had to buy clothes, undergarments, toiletries, etc., as soon as I left the airport, and Lisbon is expensive. I'd originally had a couple more day trips planned for this leg of the trip, but they didn't happen, I was simply too tired.

Off to Porto in the north.

Porto main streets
All of their buildings were snazzy like this
It's home to one of the oldest European universities

Porto was extremely laid back and a bit gloomy; the former capital reminds me of Seattle, except the food isn't good (sorry not sorry, le struggle). I spent four days in Porto, but I only needed two. I immediately regretted skipping Madeira after spending time in Porto and seeing that there wasn't a whole lot to do. But it is what it is. Besides, I was feeling worn down, and the laid back atmosphere is what I ended up needing anyway.

Porto was easy to tour. Just buy a ticket for one of the HoHo buses, and let them do the work for you.

Porto center
Definitely recommend the hop on hop off for efficiency

Porto is very close to a little gem of a town called Gaia; it's literally only separated by a bridge. Gaia personified the vast differences between southern and northern Portugal, with the north being very quaint and quiet compared to the sunny and vibrant south.

Bridge separating Porto from Gaia 
Gaia riverfront

Another day, another struggle meal

Nothing good gelato can't fix, though! 😋

Gorgeous Gaia

I'd return to Portugal in a heart beat, particularly Lisbon. I was kind of surprised by the strong multicultural presence there; and the fact that I was surprised let's me know that despite having traveling to over 50 countries, I still need to get out more. That aside, I think I could live in Lisbon. Portuguese is official, but English is widely and perfectly spoken, and there are some cool spots around the city. I'd also like to visit Madeira and Azores in the future.

Despite some hiccups, Portugal was a great way to wind down my month long Euro trip, and the people were fabulous. Here's to 50 more countries!

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