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Published: July 28th 2005
A fluent Portuguese speaker, knows all the best shopping spots, fearless van driver and knowable guide of the historic sights. What more could we ask? Oh… and she just happens to be A’s sister! We were finally in Portugal and very excited for several reasons. Most importantly we would be able to see Aunt Linda ,Uncle Ron and the girls. They have been living in Portugal for 15 years as missionaries in Lisbon.
However, we didn’t exactly have a smooth start to our visit. It happened again, a flight with a technical problem caused a long delay…this time we knew our family members were waiting and waiting at the wee hours of the morning. Surprise….your brother, sister in-law and kids are here for their visit now , only problem, we got to Lisbon around 3:00am. The surprise was on us when we were so warmly greeted at the airport, not only by Linda and the girls, but by her friends Tom and Vicky who came to help transport us and all our luggage. Now that’s true friendship! They even let us borrow their van during our stay so we would all be able to fit into one vehicle while touring.
Thanks Tom and Vicky!!
We learned so much about Lisbon (the capital of Portugal) located on the western edge of Europe. It was once the center for Europe’s ambitious Navigators and Explorers. Portugal is a land of surprising beauty.
The weather was warm and balmy for most of our visit. We felt right at home, just like Florida.
Linda, our great tour guide, knew all the places to stop for the best views, including the Palacio de Seteais. It was once a 18th century palace now a strikingly beautiful hotel with gorgeous views. Castle ruins, lovely gardens and the ocean just to name a few. Next we went to the Castelo da Pena, it dates back to 1839. The palace stands high upon a rocky peak above the city of Sintra. The fairytale castle painted in vibrant colors reminded us of the Disneyland castle.
One of the most interesting places we saw was The Monastery dos Capuchos. It was built in 1560 amid the rocks of Sintra for the Franciscan Monks who took a vow of poverty. It is such a peaceful place where you could almost feel the past surround you when walking through the small
cork lined rooms.
Linda and Ron celebrated their 19th anniversary with us at the Windmill Restaurant overlooking the breathtaking coastline. We had an “All Birthdays and Anniversary Party” which was a way to observe everybody’s specials days while we were together. We also went to the magnificent overlook and lighthouse at the most Western point of the European Continent.
We visited Mafra Palace and Convent built in the 1700’s by Joao V (King John V) the most extravagant of Portugal’s rulers. It was originally planned to be a monastery for 13 monks but turned into a massive baroque palace and convent able to house 330 monks. The building took 27 years to complete. The impressive Basilica contains many exquisite marble statues and six pipe organs. The palace also includes a huge library that hold over 36 thousand books. It is an unforgettable sight!
Lisbon has a couple of surprising look-alikes. The Cristo Rei statue that looks so much like the statue in Brazil. It stands on a high cliff overlooking another look-alike the Lisbon Bridge that could easily be mistaken for the Golden Gate Bridge.
One of our last stops was at the Jeronimos Monastery along
the banks of the Tagus River. We ate marvelous pastries from a nearby bakery that has been there for more than we can remember. We think it was more than 100 years. We walked to the Discovery Monument. In honor of the many explorers and discoverers in Portugal’s long history.
We are so fortunate to have such great hosts in Portugal. Definitely the best tour guide and Bed and Breakfast in Lisbon! a and j had a wonderful time with their cousins, that they also call their close, dear friends! The time went too quickly and leaving was very difficult. We had a wonderful visit and can’t wait to be together again.
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