Belem and Lisbon

Trip Start Mar 02, 2009
Trip End May 25, 2009

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Flag of Portugal  , Setúbal,
Monday, April 6, 2009

I have to admit I'm writing the last part of our trip ; 2 months in Portugal, from home in Fenelon. The connection on the Internet has been poor at best and it was always a competition to get air time. It was so important to be connected to family and  friends back home. So we arrived in Amora for one day before our planned visit with the Vospers;they arrived
Tues April 7 at 8 AM.  We had to get used to the noises of 1 million people packed in such a small area, together. The building we were in was very noisy. It took us a little bit of time and effort to figure out the transit system. Even finding the train station was difficult. The streets don't follow any grid. We spend the first day together at Costa da Caparica. Ben begins his body boarding practice. By the end of our trip he hopes to be surfing. Thursday April 9 we take the train into Lisbon from Amora. Visit the Belem area , Monastery  and a naval museum. We had tarts at the famous Belem store that has been making them since 1828 or something. We took the touristy choo choo train [which is really a bus] for a tour through Belem. We saw some foreign embassies homes and had a nice stop at a very old church with a scenic view of Lisbon and the harbour and ocean. On Friday we took the train into the Oceanarium in Lisbon. It was a very beautiful ocean aquarium with Ocean sunfish and sharks and tuna and everything!. Built for  1998 world expo, along with the Vasca da Gama bridge [the one in the picture is the point da 25 Abril-the Portuguese day of liberation. Lovely waterfront.  On Saturday the 10th of April we visited the harbour and fishermen of Amora. We stopped at a little restaurant looking for fresh fish and stayed for barbecued sardines. They were better than I expected. Tina didn't like them with their fish heads but we ate 12 in all. Many of the restaurants use a charcoal grill for the seafood and we were often enthralled with the types of fish they eat! Ugh.  The food is often served with salad Mista -a basic tomato and sweet onion salad that is served with a  sprinkle of salt and Olive oil and vinegar are served with it. We ate so much of this salad! We loved the olives from the market as well. The Portuguese diet is mostly seafood-of course but they eat salted cod from our Canadian Atlantic about 3 x week. More about this in the last Blog entry. There is a surprisingly small number or types of vegetables available. Lots of lovely fruit=we enjoyed kilos of sweet cherries and strawberries. The Vospers leave on Sunday for a stay in their condo in Malaga.
April 14 2009
We drive toward Setubal from Amora. Stopped to visit and walk on a section of 200 yr old roman road with mile posts. Very cool. This was near Palmela [ we go to the Palmela Castle once before leaving.] We then stopped to visit Azeitao and a tile factory and store. Tiles are called Azeulio's. I bought some and mike takes pictures. We then drive to Lagoa de Albufeira, a beach that has a lagoon and fish farms. It is close to the 3rd castle before Lisbon at Seismbra [we didn't go to see this one. They are Templar and then Moorish  and apparently the King  could communicate castle to castle and know things within hours. Pretty impressive. Thursday we stop in Lisbon to get the rad fixed. We had a lovely touristy day with just Grace [teens are Bored.] and saw the castle Sao Jorge after a lovely trolley car ride. We were sure to repeat the experience again with Max and Wendy upon their return [we made sure Emma and Ben suffered thru it with Max to urge them on-while we walked around the spectacular neighbourhood. This was of course after the cork factory tour [did you know they made Cork Pants in the 60's!] and many dinners at the local " Ricks" restaurant and many beach days. Enjoyed watching the fisherman haul their boats our of the water in the sand. The boats are highly decorated. We hand picked 2 beautiful fish that looked like Chrome Bass. Oh we also got to hear the Ukrainian National Orchestra play Brahms Symphony # 4 at the Cultural Centre in Belem, followed by an afternoon at the Modern are Gallery [free!!] with Francis Bacon, David Hockney and a Warhol portrait of Judy Garland. We enjoyed it very much [again Sans teens!]
Wed April 25th
Managed to meet up with Adi a navigator sailor we met at "Ricks" We had a tour of his boat and the work he is doing on it. We get his help to fix up our care and make local connections. he was a nice friend. We had a wonderful day in Sintra even though the ancient cities narrow hilly cobblestone roads made driving tricky. Had amazing day in Sintra at the toy museum and had an amazing Indian meal which we artfully made sure contained No nuts [ Ben's allergy.]MMmm good food..
30 April we went on vacation within a vacation to Isle da Armona . We are S of Olhao and take an old wooden ferry boat to the island of armona where we rent a bungalow at the campsites for 60 Euro/night. Orbitur campsights were a great find, because the hotels usually made us buy 2 rooms for the 5 of us.
Mike teased it included fee sea food.We go to the beach at the Island and the tide goes out early and everyone starts digging for clams in the tidal flats. Ben and Emma and Grace go digging for clans and clean a small bag full. they find a couple of oysters as well.  Emma found a largish crab and took it back to the cabana and boiled and ate it. She said it was  sweet and tasty. I cleared the clams with several baths of salt water and the British couple also suggested we cook them in wine. No problem. Loved them, wasn't so sure about  the oysters -either raw or cooked.
Mike waxed poetic.. "white Iberian cranes take flight from the fields of oak cork forests. The aloe verra plants are sprouting humongous flowering sprouts that look first like over sized asparagus sprouts.  They eventually grow to look like thin pine trees." 
From here we go to enjoy the most amazing party fair -a fieria in Spanish, in the town of Rota. Our host Jamie explains the Spanish even schedule in a holiday Monday called "hangover day." Gotta love those Spanish.  We were sorry the day we left -not just because we had to leave but we were said for our friends who's dog Arf died -while we were visiting.  Very Sad, Great dog. Looking forward to visit from Kelly soon.
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Where I stayed
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