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Thoughts on Portugal and Spain

Written by Jeff Drake
7 · 01 · 18

Hola muchachos!

We are home after our trip to Portugal and Spain and at this point, well-rested! Jet lag was rough for a couple days, but this wasn’t our first rodeo, so we pushed through it. By the way, we both agree that purchasing the extra legroom seats on Delta was well worth it.

I was finally able to eat some of the wonderful seafood from Portugal that I had read about, which was very nice. In fact, the octopus I had in Lisbon was probably the best I’ve ever had anywhere! It melted in my mouth. And for sure, I drank some port every chance we got. Yes, it was excellent! Lisa even tried some white port, which I did not think as good as the red. Regarding the wine in Portugal, there is definitely good wine to be had and the best wine I had on the entire trip was a bottle we bought for our dinner (where I had the octopus). The place was a Fado bar restaurant, which I have mentioned in a previous post. The wine cost $66, not cheap, but not a bank-buster either. One of the potential downsides of going on a group tour with a set itinerary is that the pre-fix meals all come with an option for choosing the house wine. I say “potential downside” because the house wines generally (unless you are in France, in my opinion) are not so good. Drinkable, sure, but nothing that makes you say, “Ah!” I probably could have ordered myself some wine off an available wine list, but I didn’t. I think it would be nice if OAT either upgraded the wine offered or made sure the group was made aware other wines were available. I’m not sure if I mentioned this previously, but the wine in Portugal was planted centuries ago, before the locals separated the grapes into different varieties. What this means is that generally, the wine you get is going to be a blend, sometimes a blend of “who knows?” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different from what we are used to. The bottle I purchased was a blend that included Rioja, which I love. In fact, most wines seemed to have some Rioja in it.

Overall, we really enjoyed this trip! Being able to see and experience Portugal was a blast.  As you might imagine, Lisbon was picturesque. There is an upper and lower town in Lisbon, connected by five different cable cars, which were fun to ride! It sure beat the hell out of climbing those hills!






You may have heard that the Portuguese are really into ceramic tiles. Tiles are part of their culture and you see them everywhere. Take a look at these photos below and notice the tiles on the streets and sidewalks. Seriously, they tiled the entire city! We were all blown away thinking about how much back-breaking work had to have gone into doing this, so we were all pleased to find out that the city residents were also aware of the effort and actually had sculptures made to honor the people who laid the tiles. Very cool! (Will have more tile photos and the memorial sculpture in my slideshow). The streets, of course, used cobblestones, not tiles, but everything else was covered with tiles. By the way, after days of walking on cobblestones, our feet hurt! Who knew?






Although we enjoyed Portugal immensely, returning to Spain was the highlight of our trip. One thing I feel comfortable stating about the people of both Portugal and Spain is that if you had to sum them up in two words, it would be: “proud” and “passionate”! The pride everyone felt in their cities and towns was clearly evident everywhere we looked. The streets were kept very clean! Hardly any graffiti to speak of.  And they are passionate – about their countries, their food, their culture and of course, their football! Being there during the World Cup was interesting to be sure.

I only took 716 photos and videos this trip, Lisa about the same, so I still have my work cut out for me in editing and the eventual slideshow. This work, and returning to reading and writing about my own passion (philosophy) will be consuming my time for the immediate future.

Not sure why my photos appear to be smaller than they should be. Hopefully, you can still see what they are about.

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Jeff Drake

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