I must admit that we had overlooked Portugal.
At the risk of offending our fabulous Spanish friends, Portugal has become a favorite. One of the things we loved most about Spain was the Spanish people. Well, we got to tell you the Portuguese are pretty damn special.
Our Lisbon Home!
At the risk of offending David Letterman here are the top three reasons to fall in love with Portugal:
Number one, the Portuguese speak very good English so it is very easy to travel around Portugal and discover the culture. So much easier than Spain or Italy as they actually plan to speak English. All of their television and their movies are in English with Portuguese subtitles so from cartoons as a child to drama as an adult they hear English and see the Portuguese subtitle.
Number Two, the Portuguese people are very, very polite and friendly. They seem to love you.
Number Three, it is a beautiful country.
There was an eight day period from the time that our trans Atlantic and Mediterranean cruises ended until we met up with the four couples who used to be our neighbors in Louisville to do a Viking River Cruise on the Duro River. We decided to spend these eight days discovering Lisbon.
As we often do, we contracted a VRBO for this period in the old city high on the hill near the Castello St Jorge on narrow winding cobblestone streets that seem centuries old simply because they are.
The next three blogs ( I know that I am way far behind on postings) will be devoted to things that cause us to be new, but hopelessly devoted fans of this small country, poor in many ways but rich in culture and historically prominent in the expansion of Western Europe to the Americas, Africa and Coastal Asia.
Our VRBO home was perfect for our stay in Lisbon. We hired a guide from toursbylocals.com to meet us at the airport , give us a quick orientation to the city, and then to give us lessons on using the trains, busses, ferries, elevators and funiculars that make it easy to move around in this mountainous capital. She helped us convert our IPhone to a Portuguese SIM card, teach us to grocery shop and then transported us to our little palace by the castle.
You may find it odd that we asked for lessons on grocery shopping but we have learned that when you know the proper way to grocery shop you don’t get yelled by little old ladies when you do the wrong thing.
This lesson also taught us about “ice bags”. No one uses ice like Americans; and European countries have woefully inadequate facilities for making ice. Susana, our guide introduced us to those marvelous polypropylene bags that when filled with water and tied off at the top will produce two dozen cocktail sized cubes in about an hour.
We took a supply of these beauties on the next leg of our journey to Italy.