Has it already been three weeks since our last post? How is that even possible? We vacilate between feeling like we’ve been gone forever and feeling like we just left yesterday.
The last three weeks have been intense, with an exhausting sequence of eat, sightsee, drink, sleep, repeat. We have been to three different countries, each with its own distinct culture to discover.
Portugal was an excellent way to start our trip. Everyone was so friendly and the food was delicious. Not to mention the delectable yet affordable wine. The first time we went to a restaurant in Lisbon, we chose a 7 euro glass of wine. When the server arrived with the wine, we realized that was the price for the bottle! Needless to say, Mel was thrilled.
When we left off, we were having a relaxing day on the Alentejo Coast. It was difficult, but we managed to do absolutely nothing with our day.
The next day we borrowed bikes from our BnB to do a little bit of exploring, and after cycling through farmland, came upon signs for “Praia Amalia”. We locked up our bikes and set off in the direction of the signs, hiking through a strange mix of vegetation until we reached the end of the path.
This is the spectacular view we were greeted with. At the bottom of the cliffs, down a steep set of stairs, was the promised beach. At 1 in the afternoon, most of the locals were just packing up, as the tide was coming in, reducing the beach to a tiny crescent against the rocks. Clearly the rest of us were out-of-towners. We stayed long enough to snap this selfie in front of a small waterfall before heading back to our bikes for lunch and a nap.
That evening we went into town for a delicious dinner. Mel got a regional dish consisting of pork and clams, and David got the requisite octopus dish, all accompanied by a bottle of local white wine that cost less than 10 euros.
Then we were off to party with the young’uns! Our whole trip to Portugal essentially hinged on seeing one of Mel’s favourite bands, Jamiroquai. And since they were playing at the MEO Sudoeste music festival in a town nearby, that’s where we were headed that night. Zambujeiro do Mar is a sleepy little fishing village that is inundated every summer with 70,000 music lovers from all over Portugal and the world. The full festival pass includes 9 days of free camping, which is pretty awesome and attracts a huge crowd of young people. When we arrived, we were astounded at the giant ferris wheel and various midway rides scattered around the site. We were also surprised at how well-behaved everyone was. If the same event were in North America, we were certain everyone would be drunk and rowdy by 11 p.m., but here there were people of all ages, with lots of families enjoying the rides, food and music on a Saturday night. It was really nice to see actually. Plus Mel got to see Jamiroquai, who put on a fantastic show.
It ended up being quite a late night and we didn’t get home until 3 in the morning. But it was such a memorable night, so it was totally worth it.
The next day we checked out of our lovely BnB and drove back to Lisbon, where we had one night in the Alfama district before our flight the next day. After resting for a bit, we went out for a walk and a bite to eat, before roaming around the neighbourhood some more, listening to the sorrowful fado music drifting out of restaurants as we wandered by. We stopped into a bar for a nightcap of Beirao, a Portuguese digestif whose recipe is a well-kept trade secret. It tasted a bit like licorice, savoury herbs and orange flower, and by the end of the glass we decided we liked it. Our AirBnb host had a lovely view of the Tagus River from the living room, so we enjoyed a quiet glass of wine with a view, with a toast to our time in Portugal, before our last night in this beautiful country came to an end.
Next stop: Barcelona!