Monday, January 5, 2009

A Holiday in Portugal: Part I

Ben, Frances, Kenneth and I have been spending Christmas together for the past few years. We have been to Key West, New York City, Glacier, WA and this year to Portugal! I'm collecting photos from past trips that I'll post soon.

We decided to trade in the Christmas tree and comfort of home for the joy of bringing gifts in our suitcases and hanging stockings from random places. Its worth it for the adventure of traveling to a new place. We talked about possibly going to New Orleans or Santa Fe next year.

Let me start by suggesting that no matter how good of a deal you get from United Airlines for International not do it. It was a nightmare.

Our stockings fall at least once every year

We arrived in Lisbon on Christmas Eve and settled into Sofitel, our hotel in downtown. It was beautiful and extremely comfortable.

Hotel Sofitel Lobby

We ordered room service for Christmas morning and spend a leisurely morning exchanging gifts in our PJs (those of us that remembered to bring them). Gift highlights for me were the camera that I got a few weeks before, a Brookstone key finder, handmade earrings, and a Coach purse.

I proceded to spend the rest of my day reading my vampire books that are very addictive (I read two in less than a week). Later we walked around our neighborhood and went out to a restaurant called Sacramento for dinner. I was much more interested in the decor of the restaurant than the food itself......I had cod that didnt taste very good. My first impression of Portuguese food was not the best.

Restaurant Sacramento

a building wrapped like a present near our hotel

After reading our guidebooks we learned that the best way to see Lisbon is by taking the "rollercoaster" San Francisco style cable cars around town. We took one and got off at a spot that seemed interesting and ended up at a castle high up on a hill with amazing views of the city.

The entire city is covered in multi-colored tile

and cobblestones

Images like this remind me how uptight we are in the US. So what if a guy wants to spend his lunch break reading the paper and drinking a few or 5 or 6 glasses of wine?

We spent another day in a suburb called Belem. There is a cafe there that specializes in the classic Lisbon dessert - a tartlet filled with an abundance of warm custard. Perfect with coffee. We saw all the sights in Belem. My favorite was the Coach Museum, which displayed how royalty traveled around Western Europe.

A church in Belem

A bridge built by the same guy that did the Golden Gate
The tartlets that we later got sick of, after eating way too many

The waiter left it up to Frances to take care of billing her credit card

We spent almost every night playing "Catch Phrase", a gift from Ben and I to the Shryocks

We had a little bit more time than we needed in Lisbon. The tile covered buildings and cobblestone roads were charming, but it was also dirty and lacking a lot of its history due to a 1755 earthquake.

On the 28th we picked up our Volvo wagon and drove to Sintra, directly west of Lisbon on the coast. It reminded me of a cloud forest. We did a quick driving tour, but skipped the palace and other sights since we had a 3 hour drive to Salema on the Southwest Coast.

Lots of stray dogs in Portugal.....this one was especially cute and goofy like Ari

The Salema portion of our trip to be continued.......


DeltaBluez Tess said...

Love the vacation.....can't wait to read the rest!!!

Frances said...

I Loved the way you captured Portugal--made me happy to have been part of such a trip--Great Work.Frances