A few days late: This morning, at 8 am on a Sunday, we had the ancient walled in city of Obidos all to ourselves. Quite a change from the crush of tourists we shared it with on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morn, it was suddenly charming. We walked to the Mirrodouro, the scenic viewing spot near the city ramparts and looked out at the fields and villages stretching out to the Atlantic, about six miles away. Ancient churches, stone fortress towers lined with blue and white tiles, purple, red and pink bougainvillea spilling over white stucco cottages.
Now we are on flight one (of three) to go home. Some thoughts:
– Portugal’s sights and scenery are well worth the trip. We spent about the right amount of time in various spots …possibly could have used a second night in Porto, especially to take in the street scene and see some of the contemporary architecture (Rem Koolhaas’s House of music, the modern art museum.)
– The food was better than expected. It’s not Italy but what is? The seafood, pork, beef were all excellent — even the goose barnicles. We grew too fond of the custard tarts (pastia de nata) and sort of like Port now. (But the gingha/cherry liquor, not so much.)
– Bathrooms are readily available and exceptionally clean in places like tourist sites, restaurants, and shopping areas. We appreciated.
– The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) clearly isn’t happening here (why should it be but….). Lots of steps to walk up everywhere with no other options. And basic safety measures like guardrails (on narrow roads high in the Douro valley or on the edge of the ramparts we walked along in Obidos) not to be found.
– We stayed at seven places, none a dud, all with lots of character and charm, some hipster vintage, others rustic unassuming. Average price $89, with a high of $118 in Lisbon and low of about $45 in Obidos and Coimbra. Our only issue: the occasional too-hard mattress or loud neighbors.
Best breakfast hands down: The Independente in Lisbon, served (on third floor terrace with a dazzling view) by cheerful Lourdes (from Cape Verde) who made perfect scrambled eggs.
– If forced to choose between exploring north or south of Lisboa, we choose north but both are well worth visiting.