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West coast wanderings

8 days is Portugal is not enough!

Our time in the wonderful land of Portugal began as a bit of a challenge. We'd located the camp site we were going to stay at and had plugged the location into our GPS. So when it told us to turn off the highway, we did. Then when it told us to turn onto a smaller road, we hesitantly did that too. It's then asked us to turn only a tiny little goat track barely wide enough for Frankie, with falling down wooden signs pointing the way. This was where we began to ignore the GPS. Despite ignoring the bad advice we still ended up winding our way up and down mountains, through tiny little villages with incredibly narrow streets, all to end up, back on the highway we started from. Once we crossed the border we again had to head up into the mountains to find our camp, but this time we were on much better roads. Our next problem came when we realised that we still had to buy our electronic toll pass, and that it was sold at the beginning of the freeway; the freeway that we had hopped off the drive up the mountains. So the Next morning we had to backtrack back to the start of the freeway to get our toll pass. Super fun. Despite all this we got ourselves sorted and headed to the city of Porto.

We absolutely loved the city of Porto. The city climbs the side of the mountains surrounding a river flowing at the bottom of the valley. We did 2 walking tours in Porto going through the very old parts of the city, as well as some of the newer more trendy areas.
There were a couple of definitely highlights in the city of Porto for us. My first one would definitely be our visit to the Lello & Irmão bookstore. This bookstore is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, and is also considered to be the inspiration behind some of the concepts in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Being fairly avid Potter fans Maddie and I had to check it out. Needless to say, the €3 entry fee was well worth it (and was refunded when we purchased books). The twisting spiral staircase in the centre is pretty darn incredible!
My second highlight would be the Francesinha. When we had asked our tour guide what was a typical food in Porto, this was his answer. This thing is basically a heart attack on a plate. Bread, sausage, steak, bacon, chorizo, more steak, more bacon, more sausage, bread again, 4 slices of melted cheese, a fried egg, and spicy sauce, all surrounded by fries, and there you have it. Death on a plate. But what a way to go really. To me it tasted like someone had cooked a massive BBQ and turned it into a whopper of a burger. Amazing!
When it came time to move on we grudgingly said goodbye to the amazing Porto and headed toward Lisbon. Now I would definitely say that Lisbon itself doesn't have the awe-inspiring views and skyline that Porto has, but it definitely still has plenty to offer. To make sure we got to see all these thing we did not 1, not 2, but 3 walking tours. Which I think would probably be our record to date. We toured through the new town, the old town, and the old exploration centre.We even got to site on the grass by the river and chat to our tour guide and some other locals for an hour or so after one of our tours which was awesome. The absolute best thing in Lisbon, however, was the Portuguese tart. And I don't mean just any Portuguese tart. I mean the original tart. these things are still served warm and needless to say, they were amazing. It took all my strength not to sit there eating them all day. Incredible!
After Lisbon our final destination in Portugal was Lagos, down on the South coast. And I must say this stop couldn't have come at a better time. maddie was feeling a little under the weather with a cold and I was getting pretty exhausted too. Lagos was the perfect place for this with is amazing beaches and cool ocean waters we were able to lay on the beach for hours on end and slowly re-energize. we did have a stroll around the town and take a walk out to the lighthouse which provided some spectacular views of the beaches and cliffs. But mostly we just lazed on the beach. It was incredible. We thought we should also grab some food in the town one day and Maddie had found a place called Nahnahbah that supposedly had amazing burgers so we thought we'd check it out. I'm gunna be frank. The burgers were amazing, aside from being the size of Maddies head, and the fried potatoes in garlic sauce with them we divine. And with our bellies full we naturally resumed our basking reptile impression.
At our camp site/car park we met a couple of fellow Aussie's (Jack & Em) who had just been in London for 2 years, so we spent the nights chatting to them and discussing all things travel. On our last day in Portugal we met Jack and Em along the coast a little way at a place called Benagil beach. Not only are the water and cliffs there excellent, but there is an amazing sea cave with hole in the roof and 2 entrances, both of which have to be accessed by the water. The whole coastline there was really amazing and I would be back there in a heartbeat if we had the time.
And with that amazing final adventure our time in Portugal had come to an end almost as quickly as it had started. It was time for us to head back into Spain.

Posted by ScottGosling 13:46 Archived in Portugal

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