Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Portugal and a car full of Swedes.

The Portugal road trip was an incredible success. And I am now fluent in Swedish, if you were wondering. And am crazy tan. My road trip partners were Joakim, and his friends from home, Fontanelle, Mattias and Sebastian.

On Monday, we all piled into the tiny Seat Ibiza that we were granted at the rental station (although we had requested and were told we would receive a Ford Fusion. Lies.). And drove straight into Portugal. After a few pitstops, our first real stop was in Lagos, Portugal. That place is paradise. It's the kind of scene with turquoise water and red cliffs that you see on the front of postcards. We immediately crashed on the beach for a couple hours before wandering around aimlessly to find a hostel or pension.
Sebastian and Fontanelle about to be attacked by the sea gulls' nest they found at the top of that cliff:

We planned on camping, but rain was a possibility the nights we were in Lagos. But thanks to my fluency in Portuguese (hah) I spotted a "Pensao" which looks like "Pensión" which means "Pension" in English and there we stayed for a cheap 11 euros a night per person. That night, Joakim and I went out for tapas and were stoked to find the majority of the menu was seafood. Here are our tapas of muscles with a light tomato sauce and cheese with fig sauce:

The next day was not perfectly prime beach weather. So we find the tourist office and asked the kind lady for her suggestions for wineries in the area to try a wine tasting. I was cracking up as she spoke with her Portuguese accent which sounds totally slavic to me. "Vell, you vill go in dees direction and vill see a road called vreresh gov." It was a crack-up. The vineyard was amazing though. It is called Quinta do Frances (the man who runs it is a French doctor) in the city of Silves, Portugal. They grow only red grapes and create two types of red on site. They buy grapes from other nearby vineyards for their rose and white wines. We got the full tour.
Joakim and I in the vineyard:

The store and tasting area:

The fermenting process:

It was all very enlightening really. We really liked the second red wine and bought two bottles of it to drink on the beach later that day...

That night we had dinner at a recommended seafood place in Lagos. It was a difficult decision between tuna fish steak, cod, cuttle and more. So we all got one of each pretty much. Clever us.

After two nights in the lovely Lagos, we drove up the west coast and took a pitstop in Sagres. This is the peninsular, rocky point of Portugal that people thought was the edge of the world prior to Columbus' exploration. Pretty neat!

In the evening, we stopped at a quiet beach town between Villa do Bispo and Aljezur. We found another pension last minute which was perfect and still very cheap at 20 euros. The day we spent at that beach was the day I got in a really bad fight with the sun and got a good start on my epic bikini tan.

The next day, it was the trek up to Lisbon. We got into the city at night and found out it was a weekend of a huge fiesta. It was their version of the Fourth of July as well as a day for San Antonio--the patron saint of marriage.

So we ended up eating dinner a little plaza, where a family was bar-be-cuing for the people around. We were the only tourists for blocks and blocks! The next day, we began some heavy exploring in the hot Lisbon air.

Our hostel hosts were incredibly nice. First of all, the entire hostel (Alfama Patio Hostel) was completely green and eco-friendly. All kinds of recycling and compost, water conserving showers, fans instead of air conditioning. And they even had a Portuguese water dog who lived there! So cute. They suggested the best pastry place in all of Portugal which happened to be at the other end of Lisbon by a metro ride. It is called Pastelería de Belem and it was incredible.

The following day, we went sightseeing a bit more in the city. I absolutely love this place. It was like San Francisco with the intense hills and cable cars and surrounding beach. But it was still distinctly European. I loved it.

The last night, we had a massive BBQ at the Patio Hostel. We had chicken, pork, pasta, salad, bread, and liters upon liters of sangria. Perfect way to end the hot week.

And now I have less than 24 hours and I fly to Sweden. Well, technically to Oslo, Norway and then I get picked up and driven to Uddevalla, Sweden to stay with a lovely family. :)

Here we go again!

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