While we lived in Spain, Portugal was always a trip
that was just a bit too far for a weekend and a bit too close for
a vacation. That is why we deprived ourselves of a visit until it
became clear that we were moving away from Spain to Germany. Most
folks who visited Portugal usually went only to Lisbon and Porto
and came back with reports of bad roads and primative service off
the main routes. After looking at the map we decided to drive the
entire country starting in the north and going all the way down.
In touring the country this way we avoided traversing the
mountains which separate Portugal from Spain and took advantage
of the very good controlled access highway (toll road) which runs
almost the entire length of this long, slender country.
We decided to concentrate our time in Lisbon so past up Porto for another visit. Lisbon is in better condition than some guide books would lead you to believe. While it lacks the polish of Madrid it definitely is not a crumbling old city. Lisbon like Seville has seen better days especially those when it was the capital of the country which discovered the first sailing route around Africa and the orient thanks to Vasco de Gama who wasn't Portuguese (he was Basque) but then Columbus wasn't Spanish. Just like today, one often has to leave home to get recognition and money.
Since we were on a limited time schedule (we wanted to have time for a couple days in Grenada), we decided a city bus tour.. It turned out to be a good tour in a comfortable bus. After it was over we felt that we had a good tour. Our photos portray the high points including the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos where the best example of what is known as Manueline achitechture is found, the Torre de Belém, a tribute to Portugal's maritime history and the nearby Monument to the Discoveries, a modern and impressive limestone creation on the bank of the Rio Tejo celebrating the discoveries of the Portuguese in the New World and the exploits of Prince Henry the Navigator. Included in this tour was an interesting stop at a museum dedicated entirely to horse drawn coaches. Anyone who thinks that a 747 is a bit too extravigant for the President of the US should take a look at what European royalty was using to ride around town. Most of the coaches on display were only used for ceremonial rides during crownings and weddings. For more interesting information on Lisbon click the following link:
Every tour leaves lasting impressions. The visit to Portugal is memorable for many things but above all these folks know how to do beef. We're talking BBQ like we have never experienced, even in Texas where we have had some fantastic fixin's. You just have go there and taste the spit roasted chunks of succulent, tender prime beef to relate to what we are saying. Words just don't cover the bases on this item. If you are a vegetarian you'll want to skip Portugal as it will be a definite challenge to your diet as you stroll down the streets and smell the aroma of the sizzling delicacies wafting from nearly every restaurant.
After leaving Lisbon we travelled south following the main route back into Spain. We gave some thought to exploring the Parque do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina which contains the western most point of land in Europe at Sagres, but decided that Grenada deserved more of our time on this trip so decided to leave it for a future adventure. Our trip through this beautiful country was entirely too short, but at least we managed to get a bit of the flavor and whet our appetite for the future.
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