Aug 1, 2012

Portugal: Part 4 - The Rest

My fourth day in Lisbon was the start of what brought me to Portugal in the first place. It was time to get to work, but I don't want to bore you with the details of that. Instead, I will just stick to the fun stuff.

As I mentioned before, bacalhau is the national dish of Portugal. This is what the product looks like as it is sold from a bacalhau shop.

The literature that I read over the course of my studying about Portugal suggests that the Portuguese are a synchronic culture, meaning that they view the past, present and future as being interconnected, so it is not surprising that their past is symbolized in much of their arts and architecture. For example, the street lamps in Lisbon show a boat with two ravens.

Lisbon street lamp

Every guidebook I read claims that a ride on tram 28 is a "must do" on a first time visit to Lisbon. Even Bourdain doesn't poopoo it. I felt weird riding public transportation just to ride public transportation, but one day I found myself actually needing to use it. I love how the trams remind us of just how old Lisbon is.

I spent some time at the Castelo de Sao Jorge one evening, taking in the beautiful views of the city. The red tiled roofs were a common sight throughout the country. This castle dates from the Moorish times and sits in a strategic position at the top of a hill overlooking Lisbon.

View of Lisbon from Castelo de Sao Jorge

The second half of my trip in Portugal was spent in the north, near the city of Porto. One evening, I had some free time so I went to some of my fellow conference attendees to Porto. We nearly died in a taxi but that is a different story. Porto is, of course, famous for producing port wine. The port wine houses line the Rio Douro in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Sandeman Cellars

Traditionally, boats called rabelos were used to transport the port wine barrels down the Rio Douro, and they can still be seen on the river today.

Rabelos in the Rio Douro

I wanted to spend some more time in Porto, so I spent a night in the heart of the city. A landmark that can be seen around the city is Torre de Clerigos, a bell tower which is a part of a church.

Torre de Clerigos

While I never eat McDonald's at home anymore, I had to visit the Imperial McDonald's in Porto. It sits on Porto's main square, Praca de Liberdade and is super fancy.

You can barely see it in this photo but the sign does say "Imperial McDonald's"
The counter at Imperial McDonald's

I still couldn't get enough of the Portuguese tiles. Even the train station is heavily decorated with them. This is the train station I arrived in when I returned from the conference to Porto.

Sao Bento train station

In the afternoon, I found myself wandering about. Sometimes I have a plan of attack and sometimes I just find myself walking towards whatever catches my eye. What caught my eye was Porto's cathedral. It was no longer open for the day, so I didn't get to see what the interior looks like. 

Still, it was worth it. The best part was the terrace of the cathedral, which offers great views of the Rio Douro and Vila Nova de Gaia. If you look closely, you can see all of the signs of the Port wine houses.

On my last day, I also took a ride on the teleferico. This made me fall in love with the red roof tiles even more!

That's all of Portugal that I have for you! If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend making the journey to Portugal. It is a beautiful country full of warm people, delicious food and it is quite affordable compared to the rest of continental Europe.

You might also like:
Portugal: Part 1 - Obrigada: the only word I learned
Portugal: Part 2 - Kicking it old school in Belem
Portugal: Part 3 - Cold and Rainy in Sintra


  1. Love this post on Lisbon Portugal Irene! Will reference it when I eventually can make it there. Portugal is one place on my bucket list for sure! Eddy

  2. Hi Eddy,

    Thanks for stopping by. It was great talking to you about your company at BlogHer.