But, the few times I'd had Portuguese food it had been delicious, and I'd heard from a few folks that the beaches were nice, so we went ahead and built in 5 days on our road trip.
|Views of the Castle from O Arado, Montemor-o-novo.
Our first meal in Portugal was yet another entry in E's ninja restaurant-picking log. We left Merida, Spain and drove over the border into a tiny town of Montemor-o-novo where E directed me up a mountain to a restaurant with a beautiful view. We enjoyed bread, mixed goat/cow cheese and açorda de mariscos, which was a delicious stew unlike anything either of us had ever had (turns out: açorda does not mean assortment). Next door to the restaurant was an open church with classic Portuguese tile decoration., and we were the only visitors, which was absolutely lovely.
|Cable cars in Alfama
|There's a mini golden gate bridge on the way into Lisbon from Spain.
It was hot while we were in town, and a cruise ship came into port on our first full day, so everywhere we went we were sweaty and the shady bits were flooded with tourists. After all of our backroads travel in Spain, this was very different. It's one thing to be in a consistently foreign place -- where the language and the people may not be your own, but they have patterns and consistencies that can, over time, make you feel more comfortable because you start to adapt and begin to know what to expect. An international horde of tourists is just the opposite -- the only common language is English, but, of course, much like Southeast Asia, the tourist English spoken in Europe is also not anything close to the language that I know as my own.
|View over the bay and the roofs of Alfama.
Very stereotypical Portuguese lunch:
salad, mackerel, potatoes, and some sort of root vegetable. Delicious.
And then, after about 10 minutes, the police rolled up behind me and flashed their blues. With no cell service, I reluctantly turned off the hazards and prepared to pull away from the curb and just drive around until I found E, when out of nowhere, the trunk opened. E threw in our bags, waving an apology to the cops and then jumped into the passenger seat, breathing in gasps from his 500 meter dash uphill with 2 10Kg backpacks.
|Gorgeous trail system available for hiking or adventurous trail running on the coast in Lagos.
|Cabo San Vicente
Their analysis wasn't wrong, just funny in why it was right. We were probably their best bet for a ride, we had a 4 door car and a trunk, we were a couple, and we could bumble along in Italian (which they expected from Spaniards, but were shocked when they learned we were Americans). We also did them one better and took them all the way to Lagos, saving them at least a day of difficult bus travel from Sagres to Lagos, and in the meantime, we learned all about their hike down the Rota Vicentina. There are villages along the way, and you can totally just do day pack hikes between prepared meals, lodging and hot water -- It's now very high on our list of travels we'd like to do in the future...