We have left Portugal, which was as difficult a sentence to type as it is to believe. But, as it were, we are addicted to the open road, and there is still a lot of continent to explore.
At one point we found ourselves following an almost identical route as the one taken on our honeymoon almost six years ago. A slight change in perspective and spending habits this time around, but it did reinforce that all we did before having Henley was spend money on food and drink. Eating out every meal and staying in a hotel every night seems an exorbitant expense when compared to our new life.
We explored some of our favourite cities:
Porto has retained its old world Portuguese charm despite being the second biggest city in Portugal. It has everything you would expect of a European big city: charming waterfront area, the shopping district equivalent to Robson street, narrow cobblestone streets, medieval churches, crumbling buildings, and just the hint of new world architecture budging into the landscape. And, underneath the city is where it stores its most famous export: Port wine. The food, the architecture, the shopping …sigh. In Porto we invented the ‘best Nata’ contest…buying the famous Portuguese custard treat from hundreds of different vendors on the hunt for the best one. I love Porto. Also, I love Natas.
Coimbra is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, which means that it is teeming with the youthful spirit of people who think they will change the world (some of them probably will). The air is thick with a rich education and the optimism of youth, and the other things you can expect from a university town: random anti-establishment graffitti, amazing cafes, restaurants, and people watching. It sits on the banks of the Mondego River, across which we found a campsite that ranks as one of Robbie’s favourites.
If you ever find yourself in Sintra I insist you make a trip to the Quinta da Regaleira:
We went to Carnival in Loule, which was . . . . pretty wild:
Saw 100 million-year-old Iguanadon footprints:
And, just kind of . . . hung out.
Thank you, Portugal. And now, onto Spain (again)!