Monday, August 27, 2007

Almost home

Rob in front of a "small" aging cask in a port cellar in Gaia, just across the river from Porto.

Me at a vineyard in the Douro Valley. No picture can do the scenery justice.

As for now, we are currently sitting in the Radisson Lisbon -- just five minutes from the airport -- and our hotel room is the size of our three previous hotel rooms combined (London, Lisbon, Porto). Tonight was a splurge because we are getting up at 4:45am to head over to the airport for our flight, so we wanted to be as close as possible.

We have had an awesome vacation. It's been jam-packed with sightseeing from start to finish. We have a few hundred pictures and a few extra pounds (not just of souvenirs) to show for it. Thank goodness for Operation Portugal because now we're just heading home back to our old pre-OP selves instead of the biggest versions of ourselves to date. :)

It's about time for our 5 hours of sleep to begin, so we'll sign off with a few quick lessons about travelling through Portugal:

1. A phrasebook is cool and all, but when you're staring down a menu in Portuguese, you really want a Portuguese-English dictionary in your bag.

1a. When in doubt, just gesture your way into asking the waiter to give you his or her favorite dish. It's always good.

2. There are not stones as slippery as the stones of Lisbon's cobbled sidewalks anywhere else on the planet. Shoes with traction -- yet light if you're visiting in the hot August sun -- are a must.

3. If the guidebook describes an area as "a neighborhood of contrasts" or at any point uses the word "melancholy," you may not want to go there, especially your first night in the city, especially at night.

4. Speaking of guidebooks, have three with you. Compare info. Only rely on the info when it's in at least two. Otherwise you'll be standing in front of boarded up buildings that used to be restaurants and outside train stations that no longer run trains.

5. Listen to some Portuguese before you go abroad. You won't believe what it sounds like in person. Nothing in your language book will prepare you. You still won't understand anything. But at least you'll be prepared for understanding nothing.

6. Portugal is beautiful and wonderful and worth all the struggles.

Much more to come! Can't wait to be back in touch with you all.

1 comment:

Rob said...

There's nothing like visiting an angelic vineyard near the harvest. The vines were bursting with grapes. What's even cooler was the vineyard we visited produces among the best grapes for port in all of the Duoro Valley. Which means it's one of the finest wineries in the world. The view somehow surpassed the wineries reputation. Truly one of the most breathtaking sceneries I've ever seen.