Search results: 12 posts match "Portugal". Select title or scroll down to see posts.
 
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Oct 23, 2015, Fri
Driving to Marvao      Portugal, Marvao, Spain, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 23, 2015
  Portugal, Marvao, Spain, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 24, 2015, Sat
Castelo de Marvão      Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 24, 2015
  Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 25, 2015, Sun
Oct 25, 2015
  Hike, Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 25, 2015, Sun
Castelo de Vide      Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 25, 2015
  Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 26, 2015, Mon
Marvao to Evora      Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 26, 2015
  Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 27, 2015, Tue
Evora      Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 27, 2015
  Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 28, 2015, Wed
Evora Cathedral      Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 28, 2015
  Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 29, 2015, Thu
Tchau Evora      Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 29, 2015
  Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 29, 2015, Thu
Olá Lisbon      Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 29, 2015
  Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 30, 2015, Fri
Sintra      Sintra, Portugal, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 30, 2015
  Sintra, Portugal, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 31, 2015, Sat
Wandering in Lisbon      Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal  
Oct 31, 2015
  Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal  
Nov 1, 2015, Sun
Adeus Portugal      Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal  
Nov 1, 2015
  Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal  
 
 
 

Driving to Marvao

 
October 23, 2015 Oct 23, 2015   Portugal, Marvao, Spain, Spain-Portugal
 
 

Upon waking in Seville it was time for a cappuccino, a dessert, and a walk to the Europcar office, the one at the train station. We were off to Marvao. We expected to drive through a forest of cork trees to get to a town perched on a hill shared with a castle. Another settlement that exists thanks to its impregnable situation. We rented the cheapest car, a Mini-sized but soggier Opel Adam. It had a slick stop-start and felt rock solid on the highway.

We quickly came to refer to the car as Adam. I drove Adam a half hour of Seville streets followed by an hour of four-lane divided highway followed by a few hours of windy two-lane roads followed by parking at the end of the road, just below the town. Along the way we stopped at a cafe for 1€ espressos and at a rather seedy store for groceries. We saw a lot of what I quickly realized were cork oaks, some showing bright red as if freshly injured skin.

Our hotel, Estalagem de Marvo, was very charming. Everything about it was well executed, the proprietors helpful and friendly, and so it joins Ronda and Granada and Tangier on the list of really nice places to stay. Estalagem de Marvo includes breakfast which is needed since Marvao is so small it doesn't have the patisseries that other cities offer. The hotel's reception room doubles as the town's only grocery store.

 
 
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Marvao      
 
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Marvao town seen from castle      
 
Marvao town seen from castle      
 
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Old car      
 
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Garden below castle      
 
Garden below castle      
 
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https://jamesgaston.ca/369
 
 

Castelo de Marvão

 
October 24, 2015 Oct 24, 2015   Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal
 
 

After breakfast in the hotel we walked up to the castle that shares the hilltop. At 1.3 entry is a bargain. The Castle grounds are extensive and well maintained and it is all open to unimpeded exploration. The grounds feature a cistern and walkways along the walls and slit windows and expansive views, The stone was slippery in the rain and many of the walkways narrow and lacking in railings. Castles weren't built to code.

The first castle to be built on this site dates to an 8th century Islamic knight, Ibn Marwan. The current Castelo de Marvo dates to the 12th century King Dom Dinis. The castle was remodeled during the 17th century so it has two set of walls. The inner walls are from medieval times, the outer from the "Guerra da Restaurao", the war between Portugal and Spain that began with the Portuguese revolution (1640) and ended with the Treaty of Lisbon (1668). I felt some of this history wandering around inside its walls, looking through slit windows, standing in a cramped stone guard tower, looking down to Marvao and further to the neighboring countryside. A commanding spot indeed.

The afternoon turned to rain so we relaxed by the fire in the hotel.

 
 
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Marvão Castle      
 
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Marvão Castle and Portalegre      
 
Marvão Castle and Portalegre      
 
Marvão Castle and Portalegre      
 
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Marvão Castle      
 
Marvão Castle      
 
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Marvão Castle      
 
Marvão Castle      
 
Marvão Castle      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/370
 
 

The Road to Portagem

 
October 25, 2015 Oct 25, 2015   Hike, Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal
 
 

We were up early as daylight saving time ended in the night. Yesterday's fog was gone. Breakfast was in the hotels comfortable dining room. The friendly husband set out a buffet of coffee, juice, fruit, cheese, ham, bread and a dessert.

We'd a goal for the morning, to reserve a table at the Sever restaurant, which meant we had to walk to the neighboring town of Portagem. The town is in clear view as Marvao is on the hill overlooking it.

We walked to the town wall, passed through an arch, crossed the road then started down a trail past a convent. From here we were soon on the Road to Portalegre. Though we weren't going as far as Portalegre, just to Portagem. As we walked we were largely in the shade, from cork trees, many showing signs of harvest, plus other oaks and pines. The road's stones were laid out in lines and stars. It was tranquil. It also felt well trod.

After about an hour we entered Portagem. Here the Sever river runs constrained by a cement channel. In stark contrast to the stark colors and lines of the modern channel there stands a beautiful old stone bridge. We walked along the river and quickly found the restaurant where we made our reservations.

We hiked back up the hill to Marvao to eat lunch and plan the rest of our day.

 
 
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Passed on our way out of town      
 
Passed on our way out of town      
 
Passed on our way out of town      
 
Our passage through the city wall      
 
Our passage through the city wall      
 
Our passage through the city wall      
 
The Road to Portalegre between Marvao and Portagem      
 
The Road to Portalegre between Marvao and Portagem      
 
The Road to Portalegre between Marvao and Portagem      
 
Cork tree post harvest, road to Portalegre      
 
Cork tree post harvest, road to Portalegre      
 
Cork tree post harvest, road to Portalegre      
 
Cork tree after harvest on path to Portalegre      
 
Cork tree after harvest on path to Portalegre      
 
Cork tree after harvest on path to Portalegre      
 
Rio Sever, Portagem, with Marvao on hill      
 
Rio Sever, Portagem, with Marvao on hill      
 
Rio Sever, Portagem, with Marvao on hill      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/371
 
 

Castelo de Vide

 
October 25, 2015 Oct 25, 2015   Portugal, Marvao, Spain-Portugal
 
 

In the afternoon we took Adam for a drive to the nearby town of Castelo de Vida. The town promised a castle to check out. After a short drive, maybe 20 minutes, we arrived and parked and walked around. Lunch was at a cafe where we ordered local, mine had duck and rice, Paul had pork, egg, and rice.

Castelo de Vida has tight hilly streets, very small townhouses especially next to the castle, a crumbly castle, and great views. Unfortunately there is no charge for admission to the castle and it shows, it looks completely neglected and like it continues to deteriorate. The only gauntlet you must pass is the man who will not stop talking. He guards the door to the sad archaeology museum in the castle.

We walked the Jewish quarter where we wondered what is the purpose of the water bottles by so many doors. We soon returned to Marvao to relax then we took Adam back down the hill to an excellent local-cuisine dinner in Portagem. We had a chickpea-codfish appetizer and entrees of lamb with coriander sauce and a steak.

 
 
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Castelo de Vide      
 
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The castle, Castelo de Vide      
 
The castle, Castelo de Vide      
 
The town of Castelo de Vide with Marvao in distance      
 
The town of Castelo de Vide with Marvao in distance      
 
The town of Castelo de Vide with Marvao in distance      
 
The castle at Castelo de Vide      
 
The castle at Castelo de Vide      
 
The castle at Castelo de Vide      
 
Castle at Castelo de Vide      
 
Castle at Castelo de Vide      
 
Castle at Castelo de Vide      
 
A bottle of water said to stops flies      
 
A bottle of water said to stops flies      
 
A bottle of water said to stops flies      
 
Parade      
 
Parade      
 
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Tv room, Estalagem de Marvão      
 
Tv room, Estalagem de Marvão      
 
Tv room, Estalagem de Marvão      
 
Castelo de Marvão      
 
Castelo de Marvão      
 
Castelo de Marvão      
 
Marvao      
 
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https://jamesgaston.ca/375
 
 

Marvao to Evora

 
October 26, 2015 Oct 26, 2015   Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal
 
 

We were off to our next-to-last stop, Evora. I'd read that it was an old walled city, medium sized, with a university. I expected Grenada without the mountains.

Evora is southwest of Marvao but since we picked up the car in Spain we had to return it to Spain. If we left it in Portugal we'd incur a 600€ drop off fee, a hell of a fee that I didn't see mentioned in the original quote. So our first leg is to drive to Badajoz. The rainy drive took us back via windy 2-lane roads and a tree-covered countryside. And it was uneventful except for being waved over by a Portuguese policeman on a short stretch of interstate at the Spanish-Portuguese border. Turns out the Opel's Spanish license plates identified me as a possible tourist and therefore a source of information for a tourist opinion survey. My opinion: don't have a cop pull me over for a survey.

Speaking of driving, I encountered many "velocidade controlada signs, typically where there are likely pedestrians. It's a special speed limit sign. Adjacent to the sign is a radar gun. If the radar detects a speeder it triggers a stoplight a short distance ahead. The stoplight turns red in both directions so everyone shares the punishment. Running a red light carries a hefty fine, heftier than a speeding ticket.

Badajoz is a good sized city that is probably not a tourist destination. We dropped off the rental car, walked to the bus station, and then took the bus to Elvas followed by another bus to Evora.

Evora is a town where restaurants close on Monday. Except one, an Italian on the other side of town. It was good and along the way we got a view of the town's old aqueduct.

 
 
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Badajoz estación de autobuses      
 
Badajoz estación de autobuses      
 
Badajoz estación de autobuses      
 
Portugal just had an election      
 
Portugal just had an election      
 
Portugal just had an election      
 
Vila Bolm      
 
Vila Bolm      
 
Vila Bolm      
 
Marble quarry      
Taken from bus through reflect-y windows but shows where Portugese marble comes from.
 
Marble quarry      
Taken from bus through reflect-y windows but shows where Portugese marble comes from.
 
Marble quarry      
Taken from bus through reflect-y windows but shows where Portugese marble comes from.
 
Main square      
 
Main square      
 
Main square      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/372
 
 

Evora

 
October 27, 2015 Oct 27, 2015   Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal
 
 

Our first morning in Evora was rainy. We ate breakfast in the hotel, a meager meal of ham and cheese and coffee americano. We were staying at the Pensao Policarpo, well located and cheap; charming, too, if you don't have your glasses on and don't need hot water.

Evora is said to be a town for the young and the old, university students and retirees, but not much in between. Sort of like Victoria, home of the newly wed and almost dead. On the main square we saw a lot of retirees during the day. A popular morning gathering place is in front of the CME board (Camara Municipal de Evora or municipality of Evora) where obituaries are posted. At night the university students came out, filling the cafes and squares.

The town was first settled by the Romans in the second century BC and it has some Roman ruins and a long aqueduct. So our plan for the day was to check out these sights by doing Rick Steves' city walk. We saw city hall, Roman ruins, the cathedral with bone chapel, and the aqueduct. Lunch was quiche, cappuccino, and pastry at what became our go-to cafe, Restaurante Muralha.

Inside city hall we saw the ruins of a Roman bath, discovered while excavating under the building.

Next to Saint Francis Church is the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos), a room that is almost completely covered with human bones. Over the doorway is the inscription We bones in here wait for yours to join us. Three monks created the chapel as a place to meditate on the transience of material things surrounded by reminders of mortality. Creepy and also a bit Halloween.

Saint Francis Church itself is not one of your better looking churches. The outside is nondescript and the inside is garish, with walls of statuary covered with Trumpian gold leaf. Adding to the the effect was the plastic doll-like faces on some of the sculptures. Doesn't help that I'd overdosed on Biblical scenes by this point in the trip.

Tonight's dinner was at Salsa Verde, a vegetarian buffet. It was good though the proprietor's coughing was disconcerting.

 
 
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Checking the obituaries      
 
Checking the obituaries      
 
Checking the obituaries      
 
The main square      
 
The main square      
 
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Evora Cathedral      
 
Evora Cathedral      
 
Evora Cathedral      
 
University of Evora      
 
University of Evora      
 
University of Evora      
 
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Bone chapel      
 
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St Francis      
 
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Just off main square      
 
Just off main square      
 
Just off main square      
 
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Main square      
 
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Roman ruins      
 
Roman ruins      
 
City seal: knight riding over two Moorish heads      
 
City seal: knight riding over two Moorish heads      
 
City seal: knight riding over two Moorish heads      
 
Pensau Policarpo      
 
Pensau Policarpo      
 
Pensau Policarpo      
 
Town square      
 
Town square      
 
Town square      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/373
 
 

Evora Cathedral

 
October 28, 2015 Oct 28, 2015   Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal
 
 

Today we skipped the hotel's breakfast and instead went to Restaurante Muralha. We visited the cathedral and climbed to its rooftop for a view of the city. In the afternoon we walked the aqueduct to the edge of town. For dinner we returned to Salsa Verde.

I especially liked Evora in the evening, walking the narrow and windy cobblestone streets, like Marvao's but without the latter's smooth center stones, squeezing to the wall as cars go by, the little shops and cafes and restaurants squeezed in here and there hidden till you are right in front of them.

 
 
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Cathedral roof, Evora      
 
Cathedral roof, Evora      
 
Cathedral roof, Evora      
 
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Inside the cathedral      
 
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Paul at Restaurante Muralha      
 
Paul at Restaurante Muralha      
 
Paul at Restaurante Muralha      
 
Old and older, Citroen and aqueduct      
 
Old and older, Citroen and aqueduct      
 
Old and older, Citroen and aqueduct      
 
Aqueduct integrated into town      
 
Aqueduct integrated into town      
 
Aqueduct integrated into town      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/377
 
 

Tchau Evora

 
October 29, 2015 Oct 29, 2015   Portugal, Evora, Spain-Portugal
 
 

We ate breakfast at the Pensao Policarpo then walked to the bus terminal for the 12:30 to Lisbon, which was 12.50 per person for the ninety-minute trip. I found Evora a fine town but I was ready to go to Lisbon.

 
 
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Pensao Policarpo      
Not a very nice hotel but it was cheap and it had a good location. I had to go down to the office every night to complain about the lack of hot water.
 
Pensao Policarpo      
Not a very nice hotel but it was cheap and it had a good location. I had to go down to the office every night to complain about the lack of hot water.
 
Pensao Policarpo      
Not a very nice hotel but it was cheap and it had a good location. I had to go down to the office every night to complain about the lack of hot water.
 
Door, Evora      
 
Door, Evora      
 
Door, Evora      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/378
 
 

Olá Lisbon

 
October 29, 2015 Oct 29, 2015   Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal
 
 

It took about ninety minutes to get from Evora to Lisbon, and once at the bus station the nearest metro was a short walk. We bought a couple of metro cards, loaded them with euros, then headed into the city center.

We came out of the metro to street level and felt that familiar disorientation of popping into the middle of a new place. Your eyes are guided by what they see not what you expect. But the disorientation recedes soon enough, maybe too soon.

The center of Lisbon is the Baixa, which runs between the Paraca do Comercio, a giant square on the waterfront, and the Teatro Nacional, which is adjacent to a couple of large squares. (This is also the area rebuilt after the great earthquake of 1755.) We got off the metro at Baixa-Chiado, near the middle of the middle, and it was just a few minutes walk to our apartment.

The Lisbon Short Stay Apartments Baixa (on Rua dos Sapateiros 158) checks the location box. And as it turned out, it checks a lot of boxes. The friendly receptionist welcomed us in a room that had a Halloween theme laid over the hotel's signature bold theme. We were offered port to drink and pastry to eat while we did the needful. The unconventional decorating scheme flowed down the hallways with wall-length mirrors, big art, and bold color choices. I peeked into another room, it was keep-me-awake highlighter yellow. Our apartment was a small one-bedroom with kitchenette and dinette. A corner unit on the top floor with five windows looking out to the narrow street and adjacent buildings. A bit of construction noise came thru which I remind myself is a good thing, evidence of growth and maintenance. Our room was the one color I wouldn't choose, black. So black you couldn't find the tv hanging on the wall or the clothes in the closet because the closet was all black and lit by a small lamp that cycled through the color wheel as you stood there. Kinda fun, kinda annoying.

We ate Indian for dinner then wandered the narrow streets that run between the castle and the water. Lots of cafes, lots of people out enjoying the beautiful evening in what appears to be an interesting city.

 
 
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Approaching Lisbon via bus      
 
Approaching Lisbon via bus      
 
Approaching Lisbon via bus      
 
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Lisbon square at night      
 
Lisbon square at night      
 
Lisbon square at night      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/379
 
 

Sintra

 
October 30, 2015 Oct 30, 2015   Sintra, Portugal, Spain-Portugal
 
 

We took the train to Sintra, a town about an hour west of Lisbon. Like Marvao and Ronda, Sintra is centered around a defensible place, the medieval Castelo dos Mouros perched high on a hill with commanding views (or so I've read) of the Atlantic as well as the surrounding countryside. Today Sintra is a popular tourist destination, dotted with charming squares and quirky buildings such as the Castelo, the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace.

After arrival we grabbed lunch then hiked from the town center up to the castle where we explored the ruins, then we hiked to the Pena Palace where we visited what was once the summer home of the royal family. The palace is full of period pieces like furniture, kitchenware, and bath fixtures. Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate so the higher-elevation sites, like the castle and palace, were shrouded in clouds. From what I've read, the castle and palace should have amazing views, but I didn't see much of anything but clouds.

 
 
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A square in Sintra, Portugal      
 
A square in Sintra, Portugal      
 
A square in Sintra, Portugal      
 
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Sintra on a cloudy day      
 
Sintra on a cloudy day      
 
One of the many fairyland buildings      
 
One of the many fairyland buildings      
 
One of the many fairyland buildings      
 
Collecting water. On the road to Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Collecting water. On the road to Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Collecting water. On the road to Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Castelo dos Mouros      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
Pena National Palace      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/380
 
 

Wandering in Lisbon

 
October 31, 2015 Oct 31, 2015   Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal
 
 

After breakfast at cafe Ferrari we hiked up the hill to our east where we spent the morning exploring the remains of Castelo de S. Jorge, the 11th century Moorish castle that overlooks the city and the water. It's pretty well preserved and worth seeing, though not nearly as interesting as Marvao's castle.

From the castle we wandered the streets that lead down to the water then we headed west and explored the Chiado and the Bairro Alto neighborhoods. They offered charming streets with cafes, roasted chestnuts, and street musicians.

 
 
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View from Castelo de Sao Jorge      
 
View from Castelo de Sao Jorge      
 
View from Castelo de Sao Jorge      
 
Lisbon streetcar      
 
Lisbon streetcar      
 
Lisbon streetcar      
 
Paraca do Comercio      
 
Paraca do Comercio      
 
Paraca do Comercio      
 
Lisbon      
 
Lisbon      
 
Lisbon      
 
Mobile bookstore      
 
Mobile bookstore      
 
Mobile bookstore      
 
Tuk tuk      
 
Tuk tuk      
 
Tuk tuk      
 
Church      
 
Church      
 
Church      
 
Segways      
 
Segways      
 
Segways      
 
Lisbon      
 
Lisbon      
 
Lisbon      
 
Old and new      
 
Old and new      
 
Old and new      
 
Roasted chestnuts for sale      
 
Roasted chestnuts for sale      
 
Roasted chestnuts for sale      
 
Yellow streetcar      
 
Yellow streetcar      
 
Yellow streetcar      
 
Good music      
 
Good music      
 
Good music      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/381
 
 

Adeus Portugal

 
November 1, 2015 Nov 1, 2015   Portugal, Lisbon, Spain-Portugal
 
 

Our last day in Lisbon was the anniversary of the great 1755 earthquake that devastated the city and was felt over much of the Iberian peninsula. Seems like wherever you go buildings are dated as to whether they survived the temblor or were rebuilt as a result.

It was a rainy morning. For breakfast we were back at cafe Ferrari then we walked to a ceramics shop. Next we metro'ed to Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, which featured live music in addition to art.

The weather improved. Lunch was blackened pork and wine at a neighborhood cafe. Then I walked along the Glria funicular line down to the river, past the wonderful Mercado da Ribeira, then back to the apartment.

Along the way I got a look at the 25th of April bridge. It resembles San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in color but its design more closely matches the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge as it was constructed by the builders responsible for this other Bay-area bridge.

Originally named for Portugal's right-wing dictator, Antonio Salazar, after Portugal's 1974 revolution residents who supported the revolution started calling the bridge the 25th of April bridge to celebrate the change in power in that date. Citizens loyal to Salazar continued to call it the Salazar bridge while those who didn't want their politics known called it "the bridge over the river".

If I'd known of the Mercado da Ribeira we would've eaten there every night. Food, atmosphere, prices, all are very good. I tried Lisbon's signature liquor, Ginja, a cherry liquor. Dinner was salmon on glass noodles with a sweet chili sauce. The salmon tasted soft as butter, barely cooked, cool and delicious. Less than 10.

I've had a great trip and Lisbon is as good as any as a last stop. It's a fine place to visit and I know I've barely scratched the surface. Lisbon reminded me of San Francisco in its hills and crooked streets and streetcars, though it is a city with a lot more history.

I'll say that a good time was had by both of us. Spain and Portugal have a lot to offer and I'd gladly return.

 
 
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Calçada da Glória funicular      
 
Calçada da Glória funicular      
 
Calçada da Glória funicular      
 
25th of April bridge, Tajo river      
 
25th of April bridge, Tajo river      
 
25th of April bridge, Tajo river      
 
Paraca do Comercio      
Paraca do Comercio with Castelo de S. Jorge on the hill
 
Paraca do Comercio      
Paraca do Comercio with Castelo de S. Jorge on the hill
 
Paraca do Comercio      
Paraca do Comercio with Castelo de S. Jorge on the hill
 
A favorite, Mercado da Ribeira      
 
A favorite, Mercado da Ribeira      
 
A favorite, Mercado da Ribeira      
 
https://jamesgaston.ca/382