Monday, September 28, 2015

Oy, Portugal!

What a gorgeous country!  Also, rather treacherous (see below).  Portugal is a compact country, only 125 miles wide.  And as my husband believes in seeing everything possible, we logged 1900 kilometers on our rental Peugeot.  (And had only 340 Euros in damages.  The roads in Porto are about the width of a birth canal.) From Lisbon, we drove to both ends of the Algarve, up to Evora, Coimbra, Obidos, the Duoro wine region, Porto, Sintra and back to Lisbon.  All in 10 days.

The colors are deliciously riotous

The beaches at the Algarve are pristine. 

The wine country above the Duoro River with its endless rows of grapevines is a study in geometry.  I feared the wine country would be wasted on me as I am allergic to wine.   I discovered, however, that port(wine that has been fortified with brandy), goes down ever so nicely.

I went on steroids to tame my colitis for the duration of the trip.  Croissants every morning, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables everyday.  Oh how I've missed them.
The Portuguese are very fond of dried seafood.  Octopi dry on hangers (not all legs make it to the market)  and fish dry on flat wire beds.  The smell is as you would expect.

All in all, a delightful country.  But as I mentioned, there is an element of danger in Portugal.  Not roving bands of gypsies, but sidewalks.

Portugal is ALL hills.  Steep hills.  Steep, slick hills.  The side walks are made of old, slippery tile shards.  The roads, built in the 1800s, are composed of uneven 5" cubes of limestone.   Nothing in Portugal is even-surfaced, except the universally glassy marble/slate bathroom floors (are hoteliers unfamiliar with litigious foreigners?).  My ankle  is dodgy enough on smooth surfaces. On cobbled streets, I'm a runaway truck headed down the mountain.  My husband held his breath for nine days, sure that I was going to topple.  The quandary: how to be protective, without being dragged along in my wake.  

I am very proud to say I slogged up and down the endless hills without incident.  We returned to Lisbon with one day left for exploring.  My husband had to go solo, as I was laid up in bed with a wrenched knee.  The night before, coming out of the bathroom with damp feet,  I skidded on the marble steps and went flying.  I'm sure the  half bottle of Port had nothing to do with it.