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Ola Lisboa (almost)!

Written by Jeff Drake
7 · 05 · 18

Well, we won’t really be in Portugal till Tuesday, but what the heck, mentally we are out of here! We spent the afternoon pouring through more Youtube videos of the places we will be visiting and the hotels, pousadas and paradors where we will be staying, so at this point we are chomping at the bit to get on the plane.

[Note: I have time on my hands right now, so don’t worry about the length of this post. I can assure you they won’t all be this long when we start our trip. That’s when I’ll have to try and find time to write.]

Below is a very basic map showing the general route we will be traveling. I will create a better map for my slideshow of our travels once we return:

Journey-demo

Lisbon, Portugal (3 nights):

We will start our trip in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal and also enjoy a day trip to beautiful Sintra (pronounced “seen-trah”). We will spend three nights in Lisbon.

Judging from the traveller and professional tourist videos we’ve seen of Lisbon, we are expecting to see a beautiful city nestled on the Atlantic ocean with the picturesque Tagus River flowing through it. The videos don’t lie, Lisbon is really a beautiful city. Yet, I can only imagine what the city looked like before 1755. You see, Portugal shares something with our home here on the West Coast of the United States – eathquakes. In 1755 an earthquake struck and leveled the city. The death toll was around 50,000 people. That’s a big earthquake! All major structures and the great palace of Lisbon were demolished. Somehow the city survived and thrived again and remains a jewel of Europe.

We’re also expecting good food and lots of it! Being a coastal city, fish is the main dish, with salted cod being a staple, but it is prepared in many different ways, each of which looks delicious. Additionally, we will be seeing (and tasting) sardines, squid, octopus, crab, shrimp, prawns, and all kinds of mussels. Yum! They also eat a lot of lamprey eel, which I will have to think about before I try. There’s a local dish where the eel is cooked in a soup made from its own blood. Don’t they like suck the blood of other fish? Urp! Like I said, I’ll have to think about it, or prep myself with a few drinks first before trying it. That’s how I ate my first sushi, come to think of it, and now sushi is one of my favorite foods, so that might be the strategy I use!

Local meat products include the usual suspects: beef and chicken, but I am really looking forward to trying some spicy Portuguese chorizo. And I can hardly wait to try the presunto iberico (jamon iberico in Spain), which is considered to be the finest ham in the world. This ham only comes from the specially bred black pigs of Portugal and Spain. The pigs live the good life, outside, uncaged, where they eat a natural diet of grass, herbs, acorns and roots. As they get closer to slaughtering age, they are fed a mixed diet of just acorns and commercial feed. Apparently the diet imparts a wonderful flavor to the ham and it can be eaten after curing for up to 12 months. Watching people’s faces when they first try it says it all, I think. It’s going to be good!

Evora, Portugal (2 nights):

From Lisbon we go to Evora, Portugal. Wow, the photography there is going to be wonderful! It’s a really picturesque walled city, which reminded Lisa and me of our recent trip to Tuscany. We’ll do wine tasting (and port tasting!) along the way, with a cooking lesson thrown in for good measure. We did a cooking lesson with our friends, Mike and Denise, in Italy and it was a really fun and memorable experience. I hope this will be good, too.

Carmona, Spain (2 nights):

We take a bus from Portugal to Spain, stopping along the way to take pictures, meet with locals and learn about their lives in Spain. We have a free day in Carmona to explore on our own. Carmona is in the province of Seville and the town of Seville is not far away. We have the option of doing a guided tour of Seville for the day or striking out on our own. Since we have already visited Seville in 1991, we may just wing it and do our own thing, something we enjoy.

Ronda, Spain (2 nights):

Apparently the road to Ronda (sounds like a movie title) is lined with hills full of bleached white homes and buildings and is supposed to be very beautiful. While in Ronda we’ll visit a bull ranch where they raise the bulls used in bull fighting. I think OAT used to offer a bull fight as part of the tour, but American sensibilities being what they are these days, this is no longer done. Still, it should be interesting. We’ll also take a day to go and visit Cordoba. Cordoba is home to an immense Mosque, built by the Moors and later taken over by the Christians. We have seena  lot of this type of thing before, but the videos we watched showed us that this mosque is something else again! My camera finger is itching!

Ubeda, Spain (2 nights):

Ubeda is a small city full of rennaissence palaces and churches. I haven’t pointed this out to you, but all along this trip we are visiting UNESCO world heritage sites and Ubeda is another. It is also known as the “Florence of Andalusia”. “Andalusia”, by the way, is the name given to an area of southern Spain. I Googled it so you won’t have to. 🙂

Madrid (3 nights):

Lastly, we head to Madrid, a city we visited in 1991 when we didn’t quite know how to travel right, so having a guide this time will be a good thing. We’ll have a side trip to Toledo, another beautiful little city.

Whew, I think we may need a vacation from our vacation when we are done!

Adios, Amigos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author

Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.