September 4, 2019

Portugal's Allure

My husband and I spent two weeks in Portugal this August. What a fantastic time we had as we feasted on history, amazing food, and the country's natural beauty. You know I am Brazilian. I grew up immersed in Portuguese food, music, and literature; yet, this trip highlighted all those influences and left an indelible impression on me.

Of course, we study the Portuguese discovery of Brazil, its settlement of the country, our eventual independence and becoming a Republic. But that is high school stuff! So, I found this Audible book - Conquerors by Roger Crowley, about Portugal's navigational skills and maritime supremacy in the XVI century. Both my husband and I listened with curiosity and attention to this book prior to our trip. Then, when we arrived in Lisbon, we experienced first hand Portugal's magnificence as we visited a few of the sites mentioned in the book.

As I walked at the Commerce Square, I imagined the bustle, the pride, and the work as the crew unloaded from ships anchored at the Tejo River the spices and other goods they brought from Africa and India. Those round trips lasted 18 months or more! Today, the bustle is of the tourist type but its grandeur is not lost to us, particularly as we contemplate the monuments to the conquerors.

In nearby Ribeira Market, Lisbon's Time Out Market provides a plethora of gourmet choices allowing your feet a break from walking the city's cobblestones... 

... and your palate the opportunity to sample the many chef's interpretations of the country's famous Bacalhau (codfish) and mouth-watering pastries.

Speaking of cobblestones, we averaged 9 miles per day of walking and gawking! So... all the pastries, desserts, and delicious food we ate did not add one ounce to our fit (right!) bodies. It also made for a sound sleep!

We visited the Monastery of the Jeronimos with its insanely ornate arches and ceilings and colorful tiles.

One evening we went to the Casa de Linhares, a restaurant renowned for its superb food and service, as well as live music.

The Fado singers performed with elegance, expressiveness, and melancholy characteristic of this genre. Above is a snippet of one of the three singers who performed that evening.

Another day in Lisbon included more sightseeing, fabric and other shopping, and ended with a sunset cruise along the Tejo River.

During the first week, our home base was in Sintra, from where we drove to Lisbon almost every day. However, we absolutely loved Sintra's downtown, cooler weather, and the two places we visited:

The Pena Palace was incredible with its colorful architecture, the many rooms displaying period furnishings, its terraces, and its location with sweeping views of the city below and the ocean afar.

We climbed the endless steps of the Moors Castle and were rewarded with beautiful views. Its construction is awe-inspiring...

We drove to Carcavelos Beach for lunch one day, located in the Lisbon-Estoril-Cascais coastline. Dreamy!

I am glad we did not rush to see the entire country during this trip - it would have been impossible to appreciate Portugal's history and charm. We spent our second week in the Algarve region. Wait till you see it in tomorrow's post!

Stay tuned for part 2. Until then,

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