We don’t even set foot on Europe that we can already feel the rush that everyone lives with: the plane lands in Lisbon and the hostess tells us to be patient, the door will open as soon as the bus approaches, less than five minutes later two men start shouting in Portuguese, all we understand is that they want to get out of the plane and they can’t understand what is taking so long. Welcome back to reality! In all the countries we’ve been we always felt that we were the fast ones, always getting on time everywhere and walking fast. We soon realize that we actually got slower and more tolerant, around the city of Lisbon people overtake us continuously. It’s sad to think that we are the only continent that never has time for anything and is always rushing around, as if the world would end if we don’t do so. At the end of the days we are the most unhappy people, the most sick ones and the ones that commit suicide, in other places people have barely food and a roof on top of their heads, but they are always smiling and appreciate every single moment of their life. Our stressful life is at the door and we too have to get used to it again. Here we are in the capital of Portugal, where with metros, buses and old trams we move around to explore the big city.
It’s a pretty hilly place so once reached the Castle of San Jorge we walk our way down to the old part of the city, stopping to admire the view of it lying on the side of the river Tago. In the area of Rossio we find a nice market where we take a plate of delicious raw ham and cheese accompanied by a good glass of sangria. Recharged we continue along the river and visit the monastery Jerónimos, now fully used as a showroom for few different museums one of which we visit, the maritime museum where many small and big models of the first ships until the newest ones are represented. Next we take a look at the monument of the discoverers, where many figures of people that left the old continent in search of new lands are carved and, further away, we see the tower of Belém, symbol of this area of Lisbon. After two days wondering around we take the train and move north to Porto. We arrive to the nearest tram station to the hostel we are going to stay, but have no idea of where to go, the maps we find around are all too big, luckily there’s a tourist’s assistant that looks for the address on his phone and gives us direction.
The hostel is really nice and clean, we are very nicely welcomed by the receptionist who also gives us a map showing us where the main attractions are. The room consists in four boxes where two are with single and two with double mattresses, each box has its own light, two little shelves and a curtain for privacy. The bathroom floor is tiled with all tiles in different colours and designs. Everything here is gorgeous, we are very happy about it, especially after the hostel in Lisbon which had no character, bunk beds were everywhere there was space, it was an open space with no doors, there were only two bathrooms for all the guests and worst of all Patrick got bitten by bed bugs every night. We take advantage of the cosiness and have a nice long sleep before setting out for a long walk around the marvellous city. First we walk to Library Lello, where J.K. Rowling, the writer of Harry Potter’s saga used to spend time every morning for two years when she was living in Porto. From the outside the building doesn’t look very special, but on the inside it’s all old style and kept the way it used to be with interesting stairs taking to the second floor.
We spend almost two hours looking through books. Back out in reality we climb up the Clérigos tower to admire the view of the city from different angles, this is the symbol of the city and also the highest tower of the country. We walk down to the river Douro, wonder by its bank and on the way back to the hostel we stop at Sao Bento train station to have a look at the nice painting that are inside. Our second day is dedicated to sampling the very known porto wine, but first we go for a walk through road Santa Catarina where we can see few buildings covered by their amazing white and blue tiles, which I really like, then we cross Luís I bridge and along the river we stop at Sandeman, one of the biggest porto producers. We take a guided tour which explains us how this special wine is produced, then we have a tasting of a white and a red one. Before going to the next tasting we fill up our stomach with a Francesinha, a speciality from here, then we walk up the hill and stop at Croft where we taste four different types of porto. Of course we can’t resist and we buy some to bring back home, now that we can afford to do so as we are almost there. We sadly say goodbye to the lively colourful city of Porto and with a rented car we drive to Caldelas, while back home in Switzerland people are suffering from the hot weather, here each time we move it gets colder, which makes it easier to walk and visit. Our plan to have a relaxing day in the thermal pools changes as soon as we realize that it’s full of old people that already have one foot in their grave and are coming to heal themselves with the magical water hoping to live few days longer, adding the fact that no one speaks English and Portuguese is way harder than anyone could expect, we decide to drive to Braga instead.
Braga is the first settlement of Portugal, a very important place for the country, we have a walk around the old area and I finally have my hair cut after years. But the nicest drive in this area we have it up the hills to Gerês, not far from Spain, on the way we are dazzled by Vilar da Veiga, a lovely village by the lake, knowing about it before we would have booked our nights here. We drive back to Porto’s airport, drop the car and take our fortieth and last flight of the trip. Even though we are very happy to go back home after four hundred days of travelling, see our families and friends, have a nice shower, a good bed and be back to have all the comforts, we are very sad that this adventure is over, we are not tired of travelling and could keep on going for much longer.