After an emotional, short, unexpected trip back to Australia to say goodbye to one of my favourite people on this earth, I returned to meet Dean in Madrid where he’d been staying with a friend.
Nonna Felicetta 💕
As Dean had been left with little to do whilst waiting for me he took it upon himself to arrange the following few days of travel and accommodation. This is usually my job so it was nice to come back and not have to work out what we were doing for a while.
It was also nice as Dean had booked actual hotel rooms with double beds. The quality of the accommodation subtly diminished as the nights wore on however… we started with a room with a private bathroom for the first two nights….then it was a room with a shared bathroom….and now we are camping again! It was good while it lasted 😉
Our campsite in a pine forest in Lisbon
Feeling the last of the good weather had only a week or two left we made tracks back to Portugal, stopping for a night in Salamanca, Spain on the way.
Salamanca was beautiful with way too many old Roman churches and plazas and obviously, being Spain, way too many bars.
After spending lots of time frequenting Spanish bars, as one may have picked up (mum 😉), Dean and I came to the agreement the best bars are those where the lights shine brightly (the more fluros the better) and where all the old ladies go (and preferably old men serve).
At these bars the drinks and food are cheap, the service is genuine and there are no tourists. These rules go completely against the rules we apply at home or anywhere else (where we have a choice) however here it seems to work best – Portugal too it seems.
We spent a couple of nights in Braga, Portugal where there happened to be a wine festival on, so for 3 euro in many of the cities restaurants you got a glass of local wine and a small tapa. Perfect!
We visited the Bom Jesus, a church built on top of a hill with stairs named ‘stairway to heaven’ leading to it and walked around the beautiful old city.
BOM Jesus, stariway to heaven
Porto was next. Another beautiful hilly city with the river Duomo running through it, and lots of tiny cobbled streets with medieval buildings.
We’d read that the restaurants in Porto were amazing so we thought we’d spend a little more money than usual and try one that didn’t look TOO touristy and had kind of bright lights.
We were given four mussels and some bread as we sat down.
Having been stung years ago in Portugal I asked how much these items were.
‘The bread 1 euro and the mussels 4″
No problem. This is something that touristy restaurants do in Portugal. Tourists assume they are free and get a suprise when the bill arrives. The waiter insists it’s a Portuguese traditional however this tradition doesn’t seem to be followed in non touristy restaurants!
Despite the long wait (service here leaves a lot to be desired) and very bad reviews (read after we’d ordered) the food was ok. Not great, not worth the money and definitely a reminder to stick to our old people bars.
When the bill came we’d each been charged 4 euros for the mussels (as much as a main course)….my blood started boiling…
‘Excuse me, when I asked you how much the mussels were, you said 4 euro, you didn’t say 4 euro each, that’s very dishonest”
“Sorry sorry I must have slipped on the computer, I’ll change it”
They didn’t know who they were dealing with 😉
Im telling you, bright lights. Old people. It’s the only way!
We spent a night camping in Coimbra, another beautiful medieval university city and then headed to Lisbon where Dean is currently fixing the clutch on Betsy.
Portugal so far has been really beautiful and the people some of the nicest in Europe. We haven’t come across a single person who has been rude or given us attitude. They all go our of their way to help us and always try their best to communicate. Most people here speak at least a little English so this is rarely a problem.
Like Spain, Portugal is about the cities…the in between is pretty dry and flat but has lots of Eucalyptus trees which makes it look and smell a lot like Australia.
Portugal also feels a lot like eastern Europe to me as they seem a few steps behind the rest of western Europe. Some places allow you to smoke inside, the newspapers have a page of almost naked women and they still have corner stores and bric a brac shops occupying prime real estate in historic city centres.
Next we head back to Spain. We’ve decided against going to the Algarve due to cooler weather so will head directly to Jerez before getting a boat to Morocco in a few days 🙂