Portugal Travelog: Salema to Lisbon (Day 4)

June 20, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Our last day in Salema was met with denial and regret. We had found this wonderful home away from home. We knew how to get delicious pastries. We'd mastered the confusing wall mounted (what's that about?) hot water heater and most importantly had settled into a constant sequence of delicious grilled fish meals. Why were we being so rudely disrupted?

With these thoughts in my head I came fully to wakefulness and started my awake thoughts of the day - which sadly were not so different. I decided on one last walk on the beach before we schlepped our bags down the steps to the waiting Clio.


We packed, paid our bill at The Maré and said our good byes to Bettina. Down the hill and into the Clio and we hit the road. We drove west to Sagres and then took a small regional road - the N268 - north out of Villo Do Bispo. We drove this road for some time as it wandered further away from the Atlantic to our left. We saw giant windmills, small fields with cattle and rolling hills along with the occasional bicycle traveler. 


After a couple hours of beautiful relaxed driving, I was ready for lunch. We prepared to stop in the next town we hit which turned out to be the fascinating little town of Odemira. We stopped at the outskirts of town at a small scenic overlook before proceeding across the red steel bridge into town.

 

At this point I have to confess that Meg and I have a strange curiosity regarding cemeteries. We had seen signs for cemitérios along the way and when we saw the one at the end of the red bridge we couldn't resist. We followed the back road up a hill to a parking lot in front of an enclosed cemetery containing only raised monuments. Pardon the fun processing this image with Snapseed.

 

I was hungry so we didn't stay long. We drove back into town and searched for a restaurant... and searched... and searched. There seemed to be a lot of people, beautiful streets and even a few restaurants - but virtually no parking. Finally Meg spotted a menu on a post and a parking spot and we were set.


We walked into a small park to the building we suspected was attached to the menu and as I went to open the door, it swung open and a man beckoned us in. We quickly established that we could not speak Portuguese when I asked him whether they accepted credit cards. The answer was a clear no but he assured us there was an ATM nearby and that we should "...eat first and then pay". So we did.

Lunch was delicious! We pretty much put ourselves in his hands and ended up ordering two pretty traditional dishes including pork with clams. It was yet another delicious, inexpensive and most importantly friendly meal in Portugal.


 
 

It really was a delight - and another taste of what we would come to see as a very hospitable country. When I finished eating I asked for clarification as to where the ATM was, headed out while they held Meg as collateral, came back and enjoyed an espresso before deciding it was time to go. We had miles to travel to Lisboa and our next stop.

This turned out to be more difficult than we expected. We returned to our car to see it hemmed in by an ambulance. After 10 minutes of squirming (I was sure I could get it out), the locals took pity on us. The dentist from across the street came out, entered the store where we were parked and after a moment the ambulance driver came out and waving apologies moved up so we could extract our Clio.


But it was not to be that easy. Odemira was under a lot of construction and the TomTom very much wanted us to exit the town via a road which we could definitely not take. We flailed... and flailed... and flailed before TomTom locked on to a route that took us over hill and dale and out the other side of town. We were free!

 

Back on the road again we reveled in the beauty of the surrounding countryside. We drove through roads overhung by beautiful trees, passed vibrant fields of flowers and saw dramatic vistas as the country slowly opened up and became grazing land for cattle.

 

Next we hit a more major road (an "IC" road I think?) and started to increase velocity - until the Clio shook a bit - and then we hit the A2 to Lisboa - Portugal's interstate highway with a speed limit of 120 kph or about 75 mph. The lesson I had learned in Germany last year was quickly reinforced: lanes matter. In the right lane the speed limit apparently applied but in the left lane, not so much. We and the Clio stayed in the right lane a lot.


Along the way we noticed nesting storks. Last year, when we visited Germany and France, we found storks nesting in high places like church steeples. In Portugal, they seemed to favor any kind of man made pole - like old power lines.

 
 

On to Lisbon we drove! As we got closer the number of lanes grew to 3, then 4, then (I think) finally to 5 and the traffic picked up considerably. I'm used to driving in rural Vermont so this sort of thing gets my blood pressure up - especially when I'm in a foreign country. Meg taught me to keep breathing and we hoped fervently that the TomTom's maps were up to date in Lisbon. 

As we arrived in greater Lisbon, we crossed a giant bridge. I knew that Lisbon was on the River Tagus but I hadn't looked in to the bridge at all. It was amazing! It's called the April 25th Bridge in reference to the Carnation Revolution and it seems closely related to our own Golden Gate Bridge.

This image is a multi image panorama taken from later in the trip that is the best picture I have of the bridge.

 

 

 

We crossed the giant bridge and got off the A2 and followed the TomTom's directions. Shortly we were following a city bus through heavy, heavy traffic. Following the bus gave this rural driver the help I needed and before long we were docked and checked into the amazing Bairro Alto Hotel (highly recommended). We checked into our room which overlooked the Praça Camões. Luis Camões was a well loved poet and we ran into his legacy all over Lisbon.

 
We got settled and then headed out to get familiar with the neighborhood - the Bairro Alto neighborhood - and get some dinner. We walked around a bit and had dinner at the touristy Cervejaria Trindade before returning to the hotel and racking it.

 

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