Portugal Trip Report

Old Apr 25th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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Portugal Trip Report

Lisbon April 2008

The people of Lisbon are as warm and friendly as any city, town, village or country we have visited. Some take advantage of tourism and others just try to cope with everyday life while itís all around them. Never, never once did we feel unsafe in any location at any time. If I could make one suggestion; it would be to put a little more effort (even tax tourist) into the cleanliness of the city. Maybe increase the police presence to assist with this. It is such a beautiful city, it deserves more care!

Solar Do Castelo is a charming boutique hotel inside the castle walls and at the foot steps of the neighborhood of the Alfama. We had first booked the Four Seasons Ritz but changed reservations for three reasons:
1. Although in a lovely area, it was not in the most ideal location for imbedding into the culture and the neighborhoods of Lisbon.
2. Does anyone care about what is happening to the dollar of the ONCE most powerful country in the world?
3. The charm, sincerity, knowledge and caring of the staff at Solar do Castelo.
The hotel is lovely and the room was of nice size and so was the bathroom. We prepaid a special rate for the least expensive room and found it to excellent for European standards as any. It came with a satisfying breakfast, a great courtyard and a wonderful staff of women to help with almost anything you would need. Evening turndown service was nice; I wished they would have given chocolate instead of hard candyÖ

Real Fado or Fado for the tourist? Some locations take advantage of Fado to steel your money, others embrace Fado. Fado is something to be respected and cherished and not cheated. We went to Café Luso for Fado one night and thought we were at Kellermanís from Dirty Dancing, this is not Fado. There were some occasions on some nights at other locations where the guests were so rude, they kept talking while the singers were on, this is not Fado. 10:30pm in a small restaurant, when itís just right and the singer is pounding her chest with her hands and you are about to cry from the passion of the words and you canít speak Portuguese, thatís Fado. Fado was born in the Alfama, you should begin to find real Fado there.

Get away from the restaurants with men outside trying to entice you to come in. Try to stay away from restaurants with menus in 27 languages. Your favorite restaurant in your neighborhood has a menu in how many languages? Shoot me but I am not going to name our hits and misses (will mention in the non-Portuguese category; MezzaLuna + Nasanostra). That is the fun of travel, making your own path and memories. I will say this; when you see a box on ice filled with fresh caught sardines and in front of your eyes they are sprinkled them with sea salt and rest them on a natural charcoal grill fire then served with a little boiled potato and some greens, well it just doesnít get better. Our second great find had a menu with one language and many locals.

Ok, I was worried here but there was no need for it. Get a Sete Colinas card; itís about 3.50E a day. So prepay for how many days you plan to be there and this lets you get on buses and trams. The talk about the 28 is not a big deal. If you want to get on, you just get on. Yellow signs in the middle of streets (with rails in them) are a good sign that a form of public transportation will be passing by in under 10 minutes or so. Yes, several times we would go a stop or two and find out we were going in the wrong direction. You just get off at the next stop and cross the street and minutes later, a tram going your way will arrive. I am not saying we were experts from the start but after a day or two and with help form our hotel, we became pretty proficient. It is also fun to swipe your card for old ladies who are struggling to get there change out, they just donít know how to take it and maybe shine a more favorable light on an American.

Side Trip;
We took the #15 to train station and went to Cascais (35 minutes) it was a nice little seaside town with many shops and restaurants. Cascais is a very manageable town for walking. I also got to stick my feet in the ocean. Did not go to Sintra but we did enjoy this day trip and was a nice change up from Lisbon.

It about the same as espresso, you can ask for Bica and youíll get a little cup of delicious

(Pronounced Belime) There is a UNESCO world heritage site; The Torre de Belem a structure built around 1500 ad to defend the seaport. Alright, do the tourist thing and stop and have a famous pastry. Some parts of the day it is so crowded you canít get in, unless you want to wait inline for something you can get later. Let just say when they Pastry de Belem comes out warm and a nice BicaÖaahhh

johnb is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2008, 11:19 AM
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Thank you for your lovely trip report johnb!

I have never been to Portugal sadly but knew many families all of my life from various areas of Portugal that immigrated to California and every family was always so lovely and kind.

Many of my Italian friends in Italy chose Portugal for their vacations and every one of them have always raved about Portugal. Almost all of them have made more then one trip to Portugal.

Wishing you many more beautiful trips.
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Old Apr 25th, 2008, 12:45 PM
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Thanks so much for posting. We will be in Lisbon in June.
Cannot wait.
And while I do I get to read your report.
Sher is offline  
Old Apr 25th, 2008, 02:08 PM
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sorry..it's CasaNostra
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Old Apr 26th, 2008, 02:28 PM
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I agree that Portugal remains one country in Europe that still has the old charm and the prices! We spent some days at Viana Do Castelo and it remains one of the best discoveries we have done in our travels. I enjoyed your report tremendously!! Did you tried the Porto wine?
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