Back to Paris from a week in Portugal. And entirely woofed. We went by plane – train takes too long. So I got to travel on Transavia, a low cost airline run by KLM and Air France. I took that same carrier to Maroc in early November. It reminds me of PSA… (Pacific Southwest Airlines which morphed in Southwest. In the early years when I took it from San Jose (Santa Cruz UCSC) to Burbank (home)). Not the nicest waiting areas but it was fine. More so because on all trips I bought the extra leg room for 8 euros more.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Portugal. But I definitely preferred Porto to Lisbon. It’s a smaller town, the river is not as wide, the tiles on the houses are beautiful. Lisbon is larger, more spread out, less atmosphere. The language was a challenge. I don’t speak Portuguese or Spanish. But the sound of Portuguese made me think of Hungarian or Polish or something Slavic. However, I am no expert! Wikipedia says: Portuguese is essentially the result of an organic evolution of Vulgar Latin with some influences from other languages, namely the native Gallaecian language spoken prior to the Roman domination.
OK fine. I couldn’t understand it and it was more difficult for me to guess at the meaning of the written word than Spanish or Italian. Fortunately, many spoke English. I missed Maroc where I could speak French with the people.
We took a side trip from Lisbon to Sintra. No, that is NOT Sinatra as one friend thought, reading it quickly. It’s a small town in the mountains that has two major palaces. One started in the 1300s, the other in the 1800s (built around a monastery). And a Moorish castle that we only saw from afar. Why Moorish? Just sounds weird to me…. Like I will be there four-ish. Well, I think of American… an… and French from France. But I guess we use English from England. OK. Moorish doesn’t sound so weird after all.
We took the famous Tram 28 in Lisbon – like a cable car in SF but without cables, instead electric wires. My friend wanted to. Since I had planned much of the trip, I deferred to her. She could manage Saturday. For some reason, she thought there was no need to go early since it was a Saturday. Even though the guidebook said go early to avoid the tourist lines. Why she didn’t think of Saturday as a tourist day I will never know. Me? I am thinking weekend visitors… So 90 minutes later we are still in line for the Tram that holds only 20 people per stop. We were at the beginning of the line. Cars were intermittent…. Like none for 20 minutes, then 4, then none for 15 mins then one then none for 30 minutes, etc. When I got there, I counted – we were 165th in line. Do the math. There were many cars ahead of us. But we waited. And after 80 minutes I refused to give up. After investing that time, dammit I was going to ride in the Tram.
Finally. And we ended up going on the same streets as the small Hop On Hop Off bus had taken us two days earlier. Shrug.
HOHO, you say? Yup. I always take those on the first day in a new city (except Marrakech as buses didn’t run through the old town). It’s a very good way to get a sense of the city and what you want to go back to see. I rarely do the hopping off.
The full trip was 3 nights in Porto and 3 in Lisbon. We left on Sunday midday and returned home about 11 on Saturday night. My brain was full of experience.
One exciting thing – I have decided to work Moroccan/Portuguese tiling into my bathroom and backyard remodeling!
And now I can cross off Portugal as a country visited. This means I have visited all the countries in Europe excluding eastern Europe. And excluding the principality of Andorra. It has a weird status so I am not counting it as a country. I have been to Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Monaco.