Saturday, November 11, 2006


We spent a few days in Lisbon last week. As Portugal's rail network is (a) sparse, and not very useful (we would have had to get a bus and three trains) and (b) not that cheap, we decided to get the bus. This involved a half hour trip to Chaves, followed by a change and an approximately eight hour journey to Lisbon via Vila Real, Regua, Viseu, Coimbra and Fatima. It was nice to see some more of the country, we learned that not all of Portugal is as mountainous as the area we're in, but there are some very beautiful parts, especially the river Mondego near Coimbra. It's just a shame the bus driver was a bit crazy and by the time we reached Viseu (notable for the windiness of its roads) I was green in the face and desperate to stop, fortunately we got a 45 minute lunch break there which provided ample recovery, and the journey thereafter wasn't so bad.

We reached Lisbon at about 4:30pm and took the train to Cascais (seaside resort where dgym's mum was staying with some friends). We found ourselves a residencial, met up with everybody, and soon were reunited with our long lost love, curry.

The next day we took the train (about 45 minutes) into Lisbon to take a look around. Lisbon is very steep in places, and paved with small white bricks which can be very slippery in the wrong shoes (e.g. cycling shoes with metal cleats in the bottom), and probably gets its fair share of injuries on a rainy day. Fortunately it wasn't raining. Unfortunately, Lisbon was filled with noisy beered-up green Scots (although there was considerable debate as to whether they were Scottish or Irish) due to a Celtic football match happening nearby, so we did what any sensible English person does when confronted with his football-obsessed fellow countrymen abroad - felt a bit ashamed and embarrassed, tried to tell ourselves they were Irish and therefore from another country, and even if they are Scottish that's kind of another country, and tried to steer clear of the rowdy green masses. Not a Portuguese fan in sight...

We went up to the castle, which cost 5euro even to get into the grounds, but was worth it - it's pretty high up, and the views over the city and out to sea are just stunning.

Pictures of Lisbon

The next day, Thursday, we stayed in Cascais and went for a walk along the beach.

Friday we got on the bus and travelled back to Valpacos - this time the driver was better, and the bus went up the motorway to Porto so most of the journey (distance-wise) was smooth and painless. However, the roads are smaller and bendier in the north east, whichever way you go, so it wasn't quite so pleasant towards the end.

Fishy Advice
This is a warning to anybody who is considering eating Portuguese fresh sardines: They don't take the insides out. This is important information, as it may kind of put a damper on your eating experience to get a mouthful of the wrong stuff.

PS. We ate pig guts yesterday.

No comments: