Postcards from Portugal

Wayne Good discovers on a recent trip to Portugal there is more to see and taste than pastéis de nata.

How lucky was I to find myself in Portugal in May this year. After what seemed like a lifetime of not being able to travel, here I was.

This was part of a larger trip I had to France, Andorra, Spain, Portugal and a quick dash to the UK.

It was refreshingly nice to find that the rest of the world had “got on”, and things seemed pretty normal.

Arriving in Lisbon, you instantly notice the colour. You see, the Portuguese just don’t build a building, they paint them pretty soft colours, top them with terracotta tiled roofs, and if that isn’t enough, they embellish them with stunning ceramic tiles, in either geometric designs or lavish blue and white tiled scenes. Then the pavements are made into mosaic designs, and to top it off, there are the cutest little yellow tramcars trundling along the streets, from another era, 1901 to be exact.

After the relative flatness of Barcelona, Lisbon is hilly, and you certainly get to walk off the excess of beautiful food.

There is so much to see in Lisbon, and there are the ubiquitous “hop on hop off” buses to get you there. Not usually a fan of such modes of transport, I did, however, find this gave me a great overview of the city and its sites. The Tagus River runs through downtown, and the mighty Arbil Bridge spans the Tagus. An exact copy of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I visited Praça do Comércio in the evening, watching the locals, and having a meal at one of the many very good restaurants there. I had grilled octopus for the first time – delicious!

Another must do for dining is the fantastic Time Out Market. A huge hall with many, many choices of restaurant quality food and bars, large communal tables, and hundreds of people. I loved this.

For a great shopping experience, the Sunday Thieves Market or Feira da Ladra is the place to go. Antiques, vintage, Art Deco, you name it, it’s there.

A leisurely drive north found me in Porto. One has to remember that Portugal isn’t the richest country in the EU, and initially this was obvious in Porto. However, once I walked around, the charm of this city became evident. It has more of what I would call a faded charm.

The old part of the city has beautiful buildings, gorgeous tiles and the churches. It’s very easy to get over looking at old churches, but in Porto they are simply beautiful. Very old, not large, but beautiful interiors, with lots of gold leaf everywhere.

Again, Porto is a very hilly place, with the River Douro at the bottom of town. A river boat trip is a must to see Porto from another perspective, with some truly impressive architecture.

Now, did I mention shoe shops. It seems in Porto every second shop is a shoe shop with beautiful Portuguese shoes at ridiculously cheap prices. Shoe shopping heaven.

I also haven’t mentioned the pastéis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts. Oh my goodness they are SO good, with me consuming several a day from the hotel breakfast buffet. I bought the tins, intend to make them, haven’t yet, so I’m just going to have to go back to Portugal, to have them there again.

Arkanda Living and Interiors
128A Whitikahu Road, Waikato

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