Sunday, 29 December 2013

Portugal: Leftovers

This is going to be the blog equivalent of a slide show.

This is the hotel where we stayed - The Beautique Hotel Figueria. It was very fancy. There were buttons by the bed with which one could open the curtains, and the blinds. There was a spa, which we didn't use, but which occupied the top floor and looked very nice. There was a robe and free slippers on arrival. There was no lock on the bathroom door, there was no bedside light, and the whole room was quite dark, probably because the walls were painted dark green and all the fittings were dark wood, or black. It was very chic, in other words, but not especially practical. But the bed was super comfy and the room was surprisingly quiet, considering it looked out onto a busy square. This was much appreciated on day 1 particularly; we'd left our Heathrow hotel around 3am for the 6am flight and, after dropping off our luggage, taken an open top bus tour of the city. The four hour nap that followed when we were able to check in was most welcome.

Lots of the buildings were tiled on the outside. Beautiful. Tutty did not appreciate this; "More tiles," she sighed. I think she secretly liked it.

There were quite a lot of these purple-blossomed trees around.

Lots of flowers in general, actually. But then, it was May. (Tutty told me off for being such a poser in this picture. Bah to her.)

When the bus stopped at a roundabout and I took a picture of a statue, some guys smoking outside a building started yelling at me and posing, so I took their picture too. Well, why not?

We got into a bit of a habit of eating cake here. It was on the next corner from our hotel. The national cake is a kind of custard tart with a really delicious, flaky pastry around it. I tried that. I tried some other things, too. They were all delicious.

This beautiful creation is a water fountain in Sintra, which we visited on our day out to the coast. The road winds up a hill from the bus stop to the main part of town, past a variety of sculptures on the other side of the road (of course - more sculptures). Seeing things like this made me want to visit Grenada and the Alhambra even more. Maybe next year.

Final thoughts? It was a lovely city. I think I would like to go back, though only for a few days again. It would be a nice place to hang out and do nothing - if you like the sort of holiday that involves lying on a beach with a book, but you don't like the beach, then this would work. There are so many cafes and little nooks in which to hide oneself, you could spend several days touring them. There are a few places I wish we'd visited, but we were only there for three nights and I think we managed to pack an awful lot into that time.

I do wonder though (nerd alert) what would have happened if they hadn't been struck by the earthquake. Portugal was obviously extremely powerful in its day and Lisbon was the centre of that, and then all of a sudden it seemed to stop. I don't know enough about it to know why; I wonder if it is connected to loss of wealth and inability to maintain foreign colonies whilst rebuilding at home. Because of when the earthquake struck, there were candles burning in churches across the city, which caused enormous fires, and then the tsunami came in too. They considered abandoning the city and starting again from scratch, elsewhere. That must surely have had an impact, somehow.

Anyway. One day I will find out.

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