A good fishing story... :D

Trip Start Sep 01, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Portugal  ,
Thursday, March 29, 2007

After taking a mammoth 2 days of getting from Australia to Portugal - long stop overs and delayed flights...I spent a wonderful 2 weeks seeing the sights of Portugal...the running joke being that many things in Portugal were the longest/biggest/grandest/most western point in all of Europe or even the WORLD....right! ;) I started to feel like I was listening to one of Dad's many fish stories!! He hee.. I stayed in Cascais with Jorge, a little bit north of Lisbon (where SUPPOSEDLY the biggest casino is in Europe...hmmm...?). The Portuguese accent sounds a lot more Arabic than spanish...to what I thought...perhaps because of the Moorish/Arabic historical influence....but I was able to hear some of the latin coming through from my very limited Italian learning!

The first weekend I got shown how to cook some portugese food by Jorge's mum...who was so gorgeous...supplying us cooked food for nearly the whole time I was in Portugal (latino mummy boys!!!) At least I got to broaden Jorge's cuisine and introduce him to fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, balsamic vinegar, Italian and Thai food! :)

Went to my first football (yes..sorry aussies...when in rome do as the romans...SOCCER!) match between Jorge's favourite team (which SUPPOSEDLY has the biggest fan base in the world according to the net! Right!) Benfica vs Porto. I kept thinking he said Benefibre...so I thought it was hilarious that a team was named after a herbal treatment for constipation! It was all very exciting with lots of passionate fans around and military boys to control the crowds.

Spent a bit of time with Jorge's lovely friends, walking around Cascais and soaking up the smell of the sea, sunsets on the beach (as going back to Merano I had to make the most of them!). Unfortunately I brought the cold weather with me and all I had were my summer clothes from Australia as I hadn't gone back to Merano first. So....so much for a tan before Italy!

Roamed around Lisbon going to Castelo de Sao Jorge on one of Lisbon's seven hills, seeing the yellow trams (that and their famous bridge made it look a lot like what I imagine San Francisco would look like), walking through the old part of town (85% of the city was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake), a very old monastery and other historical parts that I really can't tell you about....as beautiful as Jorge was as a tourist guide...he was hopeless in the historical part!! :P :P lol We of course traveled near to the monastery because there was a patisserie famous for these custard like tarts...so MORE sweets for Jorge's extremely fast metabolism! Tried the traditional Espinheira Ginjinha ...which is like a cherry liqueur with the marinated cherries at the bottom of the glass.

Never crossed over the SUPPOSEDLY longest bridge in the world, Vasco da Gama Bridge, however, I noted on the net, it's the longest in EUROPE :P (which I THINK is 17.2km long) but we did cross the "san Francisco" bridge (again the longest suspension bridge in Europe) where SUPPOSEDLY the second biggest statue of Christ is outside of Rio De Janeiro...which still looked pretty speccy against the river/sea while crossing the bridge. It was built after WWII in thanks for being spared the horrors of the war.

Went to this beautiful area/town called Sintra with little castles, quaint houses with stunning gardens and parks due to the 'micro-climate' where it was situated. It was also yet another place that had unique sweet cakes for that area (like a strudel) that Jorge 'forced' me to try. His fetish for sweets was hilarious and my lack of will power didn't help either! That afternoon we watched a beautiful sunset at the...yes....most WESTERN point of ALL of EUROPE! It had a beautiful big cross which looked stunning against the sun setting.

I noticed that the Sound of Music was playing in Lisbon while I was there and suggested we go see it...but Jorge thought it was too expensive. Little did I know the cutey had already bought tickets for it prior to me arriving in Portugal so I was like a little girl being given a present! :) It was a lovely evening and even though it was in portuguese...it's such a classic that you already know what's going on....

On the way to the north of Portugal we stopped at Obidos which was a stunning medieval village that was largely intact with most of the walls surrounding the city and a lot of the houses still in good order or had been renovated with people still living in them. Very quaint gardens and lemon trees.

Nazare was a beautiful fishing town with traditional women wearing 7 layers of skirts (very sexy!!)...the reason being apparently (this was taken from the internet, Jorge! :P ) to represent the seven days of the week, the seven colours in the rainbow, the seven waves in a set and many other biblical, mythical and magical reasons which involve the number seven. It also began when the fishwives would await the safe return of their men on the beach in cold, wet, and windy conditions, and began to wear the multiple layers to keep warm. The first fishermen in the area were the Phoenicians during pre christian times. We ate yummy sardines there too as they were coming into season...though I still have problems eating something where I can still see the head/eyes etc and have to open it up!! I think I've been spoilt with Dad filleting my fish! lol

Travelled up to Oporto in the north, which is on the Duoro river famous for where Port wine comes from. It was an older, darker type city but still very pretty, with lots of restaurants and wine cellars along the river and all their names lit up at night as you look across from the other side of the river in the restaurants.

On the way back to Cascais stopped in at a surfing town (though no surf for poor Jorgey the whole 2 weeks I was there!), and had a bit of dare to get wet in the freezing ocean after of course...a MAMMOTH gelato (where would we be without our daily dose of sugar and fat!). Felt soooo good to be in the water despite how cold a day it was...very refreshing....I MISS MY BEACHES!

Portugal reminded me a lot of Australia, similar trees/vegetation, with a lot of nature still around and still untouched/untouristy in some ways, close to the beach, some nice BIG sandy beaches unlike other parts of Europe and would be a much easier country to live in than Italy with infrastructure...shopping centres (yes..even though I know that is at the demise of local industries :( )....and no dubbing of tv programs/movies so I can watch things in english!! Lol

It was a very sad goodbye from a beautiful place and seems like a dream now...but I had a wonderful time with so many wonderful memories to last a lifetime...thanks always...Gabriel (baci) :) Back to Merano to see what life brings there...

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