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Published: September 23rd 2010
Portugal has many things. It also does not have some things. For instance Portugal does not have the Internet. Actually it may do but it does not provide it for Aussie travellers therefore this blog will cover all of Portugal as I know it. Portugal also does not have mattresses or pillows or fridges. It has beds but actually they are slabs of lumpy concrete with a sheet over the top with pillows of gravel about the size of a Weeties packet.
Otherwise the place is great!
We arrived in the Douro valley near Porto to find that our accommodation was a house nestled in a vineyard surrounded by hills complete with a lovely hostess - Graca. She quickly made us at home, brushed aside inquiries about Internet and fridges and sent us off to explore. Firstly she made us go to Guimaraes which is Portugal's original town founded by the original founder guy. It was great!. We actually walked on the first street in Portugal and went to a castle and bought original Tshirts saying we did it.
Next she sent us through the back streets of Godknowswhere to a scungy house with a hand
painted sign saying "La Casa Louredo". We were ushered in through a ratty old door only to find a very well set out restaurant and a woman in an apron who spoke English and told us what we wanted to eat. We agreed. Then we noticed the 2010 Gold plate award on the wall. I guess it meant she was either the best cook in Porto or the best cook in Portugal. Later we agreed she was the best cook in Iberia. It was a 3 hour lunch of pure pleasure never to be forgotten.
Then off to Porto where they make port. Actually I also knew that it was nestled on the mouth of the Douro and was beautiful - as it was. I didn't know that every other tourist in Portugal also knew this and that it would be busy, expensive and somewhat displeasing. Still it was lovely to look at and the port was cheap if you bought it off the main tourist areas. By the way - the correct way to drink port is at 12c!
Next we headed to a town called Sintra, about 28k out of Lisbon. It has a castle and
windy roads and a beach and was nice. We went to a walled town called Obidos and climbed around a castle and then went to the beach and watched crazy Portuguese try to drown themselves in rips and waves and rocks. We went to Lisbon basically because it was there and without any expectations and were really surprised to find a beautiful city with great architecture and another castle and wonderful food that can be found if you ask the lady who sells tshirts.
Now we are in Faro in the deep south of Portugal. Actually it is England without the weather. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant today because it is across the road from our digs. The waitress was from Sussex and the cook from York. The patrons were English, German and American. But we have internet and a fridge and soft matresses so I guess our Portuguese experience is over.
So, what did we learn in Portugal? Well, the motorways are magnificent but the 120k speed limit is a suggestion and is only followed by schoolgirls and Frank. Everyone else hoons. I sit on 130 and get passed by delivery trucks. The people are
wonderful and friendly and helpful and kind and the scenery and towns are magnificent but the beds are crap.
Next stop? Andalucia in Spain.
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