Posted by: lindsaygoes | May 16, 2011

Taking the long roads in Portugal and Spain

View from Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon

Our first afternoon in Lisbon we had a walk around (it`s starting to get rather warm in Europe now – well, the parts that I´m visiting anyway) and went to the Castle of St George which had some lovely views. There were lots of stairs to climb, but not really any safety rails so a little daunting at times. They also had some peacocks which are always fun. For dinner we ended up catching up with a couple of people from the first group (it´s amazing how your paths cross in Europe) and they told us about this amazing Moorish style restaurant that they had been shown on a walking tour, but now couldn´t find. Turned out that was where we were going for dinner and it was fantastic. It was hidden behind a fairly plain door, but the courtyard when you entered was gorgeous with Moorish arches and lovely tiles, and the room where we ate had even more of the amazing Portugese tile work.

The next day I managed to find a post office to send back some stuff (3kgs and mainly the thicker clothes, but also some stuff that I bought) and then went on a walking tour. I guess because it was so warm most people didn´t want to walk around too much and so there were only two of us, almost like a private tour and there are some amazing sites. I particularly liked the old Arabic quarter, a maze of winding streets and tall buildings, cascading down the hill. I´m glad I didn´t go there by myself though, I would have been lost in about five minutes. I did another walking tour later in the day, which was a gourmet tour…although I think perhaps it should have been called a drinking tour. First we had cod cakes, but the next stop it was cherry gin, then port (I stuck with the cheese). After that we headed into a mall, and had to get to the sixth floor. We got ten into the lift (for 12) and then the doors closed, and we didn´t go anywhere. It got hotter and hotter in the lift with a couple of kind of claustrophobic people in there, but after ringing the alarm and thumping on the doors several times, we got the one portugese guy in the corner to yell through and got let out. After that we took the stairs and then, after a bit more walking, got to our next stop where we had beer. This time I had the option of lemonade though. Our final stop was the Moorish restaurant again, where we had lots of little tapas type dishes and several enormous carafes of red wine. I didn´t really need dinner after that.

The following day we went to the Algarve, which was lovely. We were mainly travelling on the first day, but we did have a delicious Brazilian style dinner with lots of tender, juicy meat (sorry vegetarians). In the morning we went to the local farmers market where they had bags full of snails, which kept trying to escape and then caught the ferry to Farol, a small island. We sat on the beach and I had a bit of a paddle, before we had the most amazing seafood feast for lunch. We had clams, cockles, prawns and two types of fish. There wasn´t even any room in the dessert stomach by the time I´d finished. Our hotel had a lovely terrace on the roof, and after our enormous lunch we all sat up there and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Yesterday we went from the Algarve to Jerez (back in Spain) but we stopped in Seville on the way. We had a tapas lunch in a very busy restaurant, which was a bit of a battle with a group of thirteen people, and then had a look around. We saw a couple of sites, but then at the Cathedral our group leader had to find one person, so he gave the rest of us directions to the Spanish Square and told us to meet him there. Unfortunately, his directions were in completely the wrong direction, although we eventually found our way after asking for directions a few more times. Then at the Spanish Square he gave us twenty minutes, but after ten started to leave (without everyone) even though he´d just seen that we had missed the bus. So then we got taxis to the train station, but missed our train. Not a huge problem as after walking around in 35*C heat, we were happy to sit in an air-conditioned area and have cold drinks.

Today we’re in Jerez. This morning I went to the equestrian center where I saw some dressage practice as well as an interesting history on domestication and training of horses. Then on the way back to the hotel, I got horribly lost in the maze of narrow winding streets (without street signs) and had to ask for directions quite a few times. But I did get to go past the cathedral and castle, and then had an ice-cream to make up for getting lots. Although I might have had an ice-cream even if I didn´t get lost. Later today we´re heading for Morocco.

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