Lisbon - Porto
27.06.2015 - 13.07.2015 30 °C
Before I start today’s exciting recount, let me tell you about Uncle Bill’s experience in the bath at the Intercontinental Lisbon. On our first night at the hotel, Bill was having a shower and scrubbing his feet. He thought he would hold onto the long chain that hung down almost touching the bottom. Unfortunately, he didn’t see or couldn’t read the sign that said “Emergency”. Before they knew it, Denise had the maid knocking frantically on the floor. She started singing out to Bill, “Bill, let go of the chain. It’s the emergency bell.” You have to laugh.
Our morning was smooth as usual – breakfast, final room check, on the bus. It’s the first day that there has been a bit of cloud cover. We headed out of the lovely city of Lisbon on route to Oporto. We caught our final glimpse of the beautiful Roman aqueduct that stands proudly in the city. There was quite a bit of traffic but we were soon on our way past a large stadium. The countryside was noticeably different to what we had seen in the south, much more fertile, green and productive. Wind vanes were prominent on the ridges, creating wind power. Eucalypt forests were also seen as these trees are now grown for their timber. Tom pointed out that we would see windmills on the round hills as the earth has risen over the centuries. Some have been restored.
On the left of the highway, we past the walled city of Obidos. It looked very interesting but we didn’t stop there. The area surrounding this city was once an inland sea or lake but apparently it silted up and now there is no connection and it is covered in crops. The rooves of houses north of Lisbon as peeked and not flat but the traditional white wash is still prominent.
Finally we pulled off the highway after around two hours so as to visit Nazare. It is a city on the Atlantic coast with beautiful beach frontage and bounded by an overhanging, weathered cliff face that towered over the village. We headed straight for the funicular tram that took you to the top. There were steps but we only had two hours. There were many little stalls for us to spend money on and this village relies on tourists for the season that they come for. After quite a bit of time on the hill we returned to the beach, a €2, 40 return journey. On our return we found a sandwich shop and ate quickly before meeting the bus.
After a brief stop at a service station outside of UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto (Porto was an outpost for the Roman Empire), we arrived at the Sheraton around 4pm. It was time to have a bit of a rest in the room ready for our outing at 5.30.
We left on the coach for a brief city tour with a local guide, stopping in the main city centre surrounded by beautiful buildings. The buildings along the way were grey in colour, mainly being made from granite, many in disrepair. The facades cannot be changed: only the interior can be renovated which is very expensive. It was certainly a charming sight. Back on the bus, we headed for the water front to catch the boat for our cruise on the Douro River. This cruise was called the five bridge cruise. The Douro is crossed in several places in close proximity by these bridges. Old buildings cling to the banks of the river. It was a spectacular sight and very relaxing.
Dinner was included tonight after the cruise. We wandered along a narrow street, to our booked event at Postigo Do Carvao Restaurant. We had tapas, followed by soup, main meal (fish or steak) and finally “Picasso” – a dessert to die for. We rolled out of the restaurant and made it back to the Sheraton. Victor the driver, squeezed our bus up the narrowest of streets beside parked cars – unbelievable – my heart is always in my mouth watching out the window!!