Friday, September 30, 2011

Midweek Escapes: Portugal

Our first sneak peak into the wonders of travelling was 2 years ago, May 2009, when we spent 3 weeks driving around the whole Portuguese and Spanish coast. Can't even tell you guys how wonderful it was.
We hired a car and got on the road, exploring all the goods the Iberian coast can offer. Sun, delicious food, lovely people, good music, very very pretty geography, it was just great.

It's impossible to go through the whole list of places we've visited in these 3 weeks, so today I'm gonna talk about Portugal only and leave Spain for another Midweek Escapes entry.

Portugal is just surprisingly good. It's definitely the poor neighboor inside Europe, but it has something special about it. Maybe I was just homesick and listening Portuguese and walking around places so similar to home made me feel happy, but I surely loved Portugal.

We started our trip in Lisbon, the capital. The similarity with Rio is everywhere, the (ugly) architecture, the squares, the sidewalks, everything looked so familiar. We went to a restaurant bar on the Bairro Alto,  a neighborhood up a cliff and just sat there, feeling like a local.
Near to Lisbon, we visited Sintra and Caiscais. Sintra has the gorgeous Morrish Castle, built byMoors in the 8th century, a must-see.

Next stop, Óbidos. OMG, Óbidos is just a dream. A perfect fairytale city, surrounded by ruins of a morrish castle, liitle white houses with purple flowers in the windows *sigh*
Back to the coast, Figueira da Foz is a beach town.We were so happy to see the sea, after so many months of heavy winter in Finland, it seemed like a mirage. We had the best sardines in a tiny restaurant on the coast. We spent one afternoon in Coimbra, visited the university and had a coffee.

We drove to Aveiro, also called the portuguese Venice. Boats on the canal, nice weather, super cute and romantic.

We arrived in Porto already really tanned and with a smile from one side to the other of our faces, and we couldn't even imagine that the trip would get better and better! Cute is the word that best describes Porto. Here, we discovered the Vinho Verde, a kind of white wine, slightly sparkling, so refreshing and good and we decided: no more water from now on, ha ha ha.
We had a wonderful meal also on the Bairro Alto of the city, the staff was incredibly friendly. We got there a bit late and they already have closed their kitchen. But instead of throwing us out, they shared with us the staff dinner, amazing white fish with potatoes, whine and strawberries for desert. 1 hour later, a bit drunk and well fed, we payed so little that made our hearts broke. It's a pitty I don't remember the name of the place, it was so good.

From Porto to Vigo, we stopped in so many gorgeous beaches, I don't even remember all the names. From there, we entered into Spain and came back to Portugal through the south.
Algarve region, in the south is the best of Portugal. L.O.V.E. My favourite Portuguese city is part of the Algarve, and is called Sagres. With a famous beer with the same name, Sagres is a surf destination, with white houses morrocan style, and the most beautiful beaches I've ever been till that time. (this year we went to Sardinia, Italy, and it took over the "best beach" badge from Sagres). If you ever go the Algarve region, in Portugal, don't miss the Praia do Beliche, a breath taking blue sea, surrounded by flat mountains, white fine sand, we just loved that place, magical.

Bairro Alto, Lisbon

Morrish Castle


Praia do Beliche, Sagres

Back to Lisbon.

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