Thursday, April 6, 2017

Lisbon, Portugal by Margot Justes

This was my first visit to Lisbon, I took an extended tour and also visited Sintra and Cascais. Lisbon is a big, cosmopolitan and busy port city, it is Portugal’s capital and also the largest city. The crowning glory is the Moorish St. George’s Castle, a majestic site that looms over central Lisbon. The origins of the castle date back to the 2nd century BC, originally used by the Celtic tribes, and in the 10th century the castle was rebuilt by the Moors. 

The fortified Belem Tower is one of the sites that should not be missed, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the early 16th Century, and is a perfect example of the Portuguese Manueline style-essentially Portuguese late Gothic style of architecture. 

This is a city I’d love to go back and actually spend a few days, but on this trip, I also booked a tour to visit Sintra and Cascais, That is the downside to cruising, visits are limited, I really hope to go back.

Sintra was described as a royal village, and is another UNESCO World Heritage  Site. A resort town at the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, along with lush vegetation, picturesque, hilly and narrow streets makes it an absolute delight to visit. A busy main square where locals and tourists visited the many restaurants, shops and cafes, the squares are the social meeting places for locals as well as tourists, and I was amazed how lively the place was.

Full of shops, cafes, touristy, and yet so charming. The claim to fame in this area is cork, purses, shoes, postcards, bookmarks, hats, all made from cork. My older daughter collects bookmarks; I bought one carved from wood in Sorrento, and one made from cork in Sintra.

The narrow cobbled streets that are so prevalent in Europe are a continuous delight, no matter where I go. Some of the ones in Sintra were spectacular, narrow, aged, and beautifully kept up. The Moorish architecture is spectacular, throw in a couple of palaces, a cooler climate makes Sintra the perfect place to visit.

Lunch in Sintra started with delicious bread, cheeses, thinly cut ham, an assortment of olives, followed by kale and potato soup, all were yummy. Then came the meat, shish kabob missed the markt, tough and leathery, not seasoned at all and hard to cut even with a sharp knife, we won’t mention the chewing effort involved.  I left the meat on the plate, and focused on ham, cheese and bread.

The dessert was a total mystery, some sort of a sweet cake, and none of us at the table could decide what flavor it was, other than overwhelmingly and numbingly sweet. However, the excellent black coffee made up for any misses, once we finished the meal we were herded to the bus for the ride to Cascais.

Cascais is predominantly a wealthy fishing town, with a beautiful waterfront. I found it more reserved than Sintra. As luck would have it there was a craft fair at the main square, it was fun to see what the local artisans made, great similarities to what we find back home. The local cork product was well represented. There was the typical beaded jewelry, a bit of photography, baked goods, and a few paintings.

Happy travels, wherever they may take you.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice