What A Great Trip!
On the whole, this was a great trip. Aside from a few minor disappointments, everything went well, and we had a fantastic time. We could have done without the lost luggage experience at the tail end of things (thanks Air Canada), but travel is all about different experiences, right?
We met so many fantastic Portuguese people in Lisbon and Porto. The Portuguese are wonderful people – so open, honest and friendly. They also have a very direct way of speaking that can take us mild-mannered Canadians aback. Portuguese folk also have a very wry sense of humour which is totally enjoyable.
We learned a great Portuguese quote from Mario, our Tuk Tuk driver in Lisbon. When we tried to pay him for the Tuk Tuk trip in advance he said: Quem paga primeiro recebe um serviço ruim (“he who pays first gets poor service”).
Oh, The Food & Wine…
This was an all-walking, all hill-climbing and all-eating tour of Lisbon and Porto. As to the eating part of the equation, I have no regrets… I think this ethos is best summed up in a t-shirt I bought in Lisbon:
Such incredible food and hospitality in Lisbon and Porto. Wine and port flow like water in Portugal, is extremely good quality, and is dirt cheap as it’s all grown locally. Vince especially took a liking to the Green Wine of Portugal.
As I mentioned earlier in the blog, Green Wine is white wine that is served when it is very young; it has not a chance to age to become smoother. It is sharp, fizzy and sort of citrus-y. Vince was so sold on this type of wine that, when we got home, he made a trip to the local LCBO and bought a bottle of the same Green Wine (called Aveleda) he enjoyed throughout our trip to Portugal.
Food in Lisbon was fantastic if we stuck to seafood or pasta; we noticed that any time we ordered a grilled meat dish (chicken or beef) it was either underdone, overdone or completely bland. When visiting Portugal, my advice is to stick with seafood or pasta just to be safe.
Tons ‘O Churches
This was the “all church” visit to Portugal. In lieu of museums this trip we substituted churches, which in Lisbon and Porto, there are plenty of – believe me. By the end of the trip we were becoming “churched out”. On a pure bling-factor, though, none of these churches could hold a candle to the luxuriant, over the top churches we toured in Vienna while there (that blog is here by the way if you want to have a look).
Love Those Tuk Tuks!
This was such a cool way to see a city, I know I sang the praises of the Tuk Tuk earlier in the blog but I just had to reiterate here how much we loved this mode of seeing a city. They’re just so much fun, can go a lot of places a car or bus cannot, and they are hosted by incredible guides who give you a one-on-one tour of the city.
This was our Porto chariot for half a day:
Various Observations on Lisbon & Porto
Do you want to talk about hills??!! San Francisco has nothing on the 7 (and more) hills of Lisbon. I refuse to feel guilty about any of the heavenly Portuguese food, gelato and Pastei de Natas I thoroughly enjoyed during this trip; we more than walked them off!
Lisbon and Porto are so incredibly set up for tourism. While there we learned that the tourism sector in Portugal actually counts for 15% of the country’s annual income. It never used to be a hugely popular vacation destination, but starting in 2016 the tourism industry there started to flourish. Portugal used to be an inexpensive country to visit, but not any more – in fact so many people are flocking to Portugal that Lisbon and Porto appeared to be on the brink of being over-touristed.
We met so many fellow Canadians in Portugal! We’ve never been on any European trip where we’ve met so many Canadians.
Never Enough Time
As Vince and I made our way through each day in Lisbon and Porto, we would collectively marvel at how fast the time flew – it seemed every time we looked at a clock or watch it would be another 2 or 3 hours later than we thought it would be.
I now laugh at our original Portugal travel plans prior to leaving. We had intended to make at least one – possibly two – day trips out of both Lisbon and Porto. We had very much wanted to see Évora and Sintra (while in Lisbon), and Aveiro (while in Porto), but it was not to be. There was so much to see every day in the two main cities, and never enough time to explore. There’s so much we didn’t see, but I think it’s safe to say we’ll return to Portugal at a future date.
So Long, Portugal
So, Portugal, thank you for a wonderful vacation. We enjoyed every minute and long to see you again. 🙂